Canadians ignore child slavery

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Poll reveals Canadians think it’s easy to ignore child slavery in developing countries​. Photo/World Vision
Keota, 11, placing bricks into rows in the very hot brick factory.
(July 16, 2013)
MISSISSAUGA, ON - A new poll released today reveals that Canadians feel conflicted about child labour and how they may be fueling the tragedy.  Commissioned by World Vision a few weeks after the Bangladesh factory disaster, the Ipsos Reid survey found that 77 per cent of Canadians think it’s easy to turn a blind eye to child labour in developing countries.

The majority also misjudged the scale of the child slavery worldwide. On average, Canadians estimated that 12.5 million children are doing hazardous work. The correct answer, according to the International Labour Organization, is more than 115 million children are doing work that is damaging their bodies, minds and well-being. Many have dropped out of school; many are not able to escape their situation.  

A majority of Canadians did not know it’s possible to buy fair trade clothing, wine, jewelry, soccer balls, flowers, seafood and produce like green peppers and bananas.

“Canadians haven’t yet grasped the shocking scale of child labour worldwide. Their estimate of how many children toil in dirty, dangerous and degrading jobs was nine times lower than reality," said Cheryl Hotchkiss, senior advocacy manager, World Vision Canada.   "It's easy to turn a blind eye to something that’s not in your face, but this research shows Canadians want options to protect children in other countries from exploitation, just like children in Canada should be protected.” 

“Before I travelled to India I had no idea how horrible life is for child labourers. Then I met children as young as four who were forced to collect trash in the Delhi slums for hours every day. No kid should have to live like this. I urge Canadians to join me and my brothers in this fight to end child slavery,” says Drew Scott, ambassador and co-host of W Network’s Property Brothers.

Despite their perception of child slavery, the poll also showed Canadians are prepared to take action.  

  • 89 per cent are willing to pay more for products guaranteed to be free of child labour. On average, they would pay 23 per cent more for such products.
  • When given a list of items, Canadians were most likely to believe that coffee (68 per cent) is available as a fair trade product, while only half know chocolate is also available with this ethical certification.
  • 77 per cent are disturbed to see children working in the tourism industry when they’re on holiday.
  • 87 per cent say they would be more likely to buy a vacation through a tour operator or hotel that donates a percentage of revenue to local child protection organizations.
  • 89 per cent think companies should be legally obligated to provide Canadians with information about the working conditions in their factories, wages and commit to not using child labour.


World Vision recently launched a new campaign, No Child For Sale, which provides resources for Canadians to understand child slavery and become more responsible consumers. Globally, the aid agency is working to change and enforce laws, educate children, families and communities about children’s rights and support people to overcome poverty which often leads to child slavery. Visit or #nochildforsale.