Bill S-211 is Canada’s new supply chain law, officially known as the “Fighting Against Forced Labour and Child Labour in Supply Chains Act,” and it is expected to come into force on January 1, 2024. The Act places the onus on the brands, retailers, and importers to identify and prevent forced and child labor within their supply chains, and according to Retail TouchPoints, it will be very challenging.
Significance of Bill S-211
Canada has been complacent regarding forced labor in several of its supply chains. This piece of legislation demonstrates an evident commitment to eradicating modern slavery. Any industry, both domestic and international, must adhere to this law if they meet at least two of the three thresholds: CAD $40 million in gross worldwide revenues, $20 million in assets, or an average of 250 employees or more.
The companies that meet this criterion must comply with the reporting obligations that make up the first part of the Act. Entities are to submit a report to the Minister of Public Safety on information about their policies, procedures, risk assessments, and remedial actions taken to address any identified issues. In addition to submitting the report, the entity must make the report available to the public by publishing it in an obvious place on its website, distributing the report to each shareholder, and sharing the report with its annual financial statements.
Businesses not complying with these requirements will be fined up to $250,000, and business leaders will be held personally liable for any company offenses. “If that language strikes fear in chief executives, it’s meant to,” reports Rejean Provost of Retail Touchpoints.
Meeting the challenge
“Complying with the law will pose considerable challenges, especially for brands and retailers that must navigate complex global supply chains of hundreds of suppliers… supply chain managers will need to establish robust systems and processes to identify and address any instances of modern slavery or forced labor within their supply chains. This involved enhanced supplier vetting, auditing, and monitoring mechanisms to ensure compliance and ethical practices.” – Rajean Provost, Retail TouchPoints
Challenging or not, Bill S-211 is a necessary measure to ensure that Canadian entities do their due diligence and ensure that their sourcing practices and operations are free of forced labor – for good.