Canada Closer to Anti-Slavery Supply Chains Law -

Canada Closer to Anti-Slavery Supply Chains Law

  • Published on
    February 21, 2019
  • Written by:
    Jamison Liang
  • Category:
Hero Banner

Canada may be the next country to pass legislation to combat modern slavery in supply chains.

In October 2018, the Canadian Parliament’s House Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development issued a report “A Call to Action: Ending the Use of all Forms of Child Labour in Supply Chains.”

It found that the government lacked a comprehensive response to fighting modern slavery and forced labor. In response, on February 8 the government issued its response, with International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau saying Canada was now exploring supply chain legislation.

Writing in Thomson Reuters Foundation, Josh Scheinert from Borden Ladner Gervais LLP explains:

On the procurement side, a new apparel initiative requires apparel and textile suppliers to certify that they and their first-tier subcontractors respect eight fundamental human rights. Prohibitions on forced and child labour are included in these rights.

Other rights included in the “Ethical procurement certification” include: the right to free association, decent work hours (a maximum of 48 hours per week and 12 hours overtime), freedom from abuse and harassment, freedom from discrimination, occupational safety and health protections, and the right to receive fair wages.

Contracts are closed to suppliers who cannot certify respect for these basic rights.

Canada also agreed to prohibit the importation of goods produced through forced labour into the country, a prohibition already included in the yet-to-be enacted Canada-US-Mexico trade agreement. That import ban is not restricted to first-tier subcontractors, meaning businesses and importers must ensure this prohibition is respected throughout supply chains.

The announcement on supply chain regulation was unexpected as this was not seen to be on the government’s legislative agenda.

Still, as Scheinert points out, “the government’s willingness to engage in consultations should be welcomed. Its statement that Canada is ‘studying the effectiveness of initiatives in other international jurisdictions’ suggests a future Canadian bill could overcome shortcomings in other laws.”

Specifically, he points to the UK Modern Slavery Act, which does not apply to the public sector and does not include penalties for non-compliance. Australia’s legislation similarly lacks enforcement provisions.

Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

stop icon A few things we do not tolerate: comments that promote discrimination, prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, as well as personal attacks or profanity. We screen submissions in order to create a space where the entire Freedom United community feels safe to express and exchange thoughtful opinions.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

This week

Four years on, has Australia's Modern Slavery Act been effective?

An independent review of Australia's Modern Slavery Act has concluded that the legislation is failing to have a significant impact on curbing modern slavery and urges the Australian government to implement recommendations to strengthen the law. The Australian government must act According to the latest Global Slavery Index released by international human rights organization Walk Free, an estimated 50 million people were in situations of modern slavery

| Wednesday May 31, 2023

Read more