Canada's child labour habit

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Canadians are unaware of how many products they consume that may contain child labour.
Bangladesh factory entrance. Photo/World Vision
(March 16, 2015)
MISSISSAUGA, ON – The average Canadian may have a child labour habit and not even know it, warns World Vision. More than half (54%) of Canadians do not believe they consume any products made by children, according to a new Ipsos Reid poll.

Yet, Canadians need to realize they may actually be eating, drinking, wearing and using dozens of products daily that are made by children, says World Vision.  As part of its No Child For Sale awareness campaign, World Vision today released research​ that connects rising levels of Canadian imports with countries where child labour is a harsh reality. 

WARNING: May Contain Child Labour
  • Coffee - $85 million imported from Guatemala (2009-2013)
  • Sugar - $512 million annual imports from countries including El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala (2013)
  • Clothing - $10 billion worth imported, from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Vietnam (2013) 
  • Footwear - 2368% spike in imports from Cambodia. (2009-2013)
  • Tomatoes - 771% increase in imports from Guatemala. (2009-2013)
  • Shrimp - Nearly 50% is imported from Thailand and Vietnam (2009-2013)
  • Electronics - Imports of mobile phones/handsets more than doubled (2009-2013)

  • 82% admitted they simply don’t know if what they are buying is contributing to the exploitation of children in other countries
  • 87% agree they could reduce child labour in other countries by changing their buying behaviour
  • 60% would stop buying a product and would switch brands if they found out that it was made by children
  • 89% believe that Canadian companies could reduce child labour by investigating their supply sources


“Whether we’re shopping for strawberries in March or for the cheapest and hottest jeans, it’s tragic how few of us realize how much stuff we buy that is made by children working in horrific conditions. But it’s also not surprising since we have so little information from Canadian companies about their supply chains,” says Cheryl Hotchkiss, manager of World Vision’s No Child for Sale campaign. 

“Canadians do care – the majority of us are willing to change our shopping behaviour if we have the right information to make the right choices,” says Hotchkiss. 

  • It’s time for supply chain transparency – Canadians can ask companies to provide more information about how their products are made and what efforts they are taking to monitor, address, and prevent child labour
  • Canadians can speak out about child labour on social media and sign World Vision’s No Child for Sale petition

The Ipsos Reid survey was conducted between March 4 and 9, 2015 on behalf of World Vision Canada. The results are based on a sample of n=1,007 Canadian adults in the general population and are accurate to within +/-3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.