Report reveals possible links to child and forced labour in Canadian supply chains

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Every time Canadians go to the mall, they could be unwittingly fueling child and forced labour.
Mina, 12 years-old, is breaking bricks in Bangladesh. Photo/World Vision
(June 08, 2016)
An estimated 85 million of the world's children suffer in jobs that are dirty, dangerous and degrading, while another 21 million people are coerced or trapped in risky jobs, producing goods that may be imported and sold in Canada. World Vision Canada's Supply Chain Risk Report: Child and forced labour in Canadian consumer products, reveals a high likelihood of such exploitation.
In its report, the international development organization cross-references data on Canadian imports with the U.S. Department of Labor's List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor. By tracking supply chains of goods that come into Canada, it identifies 1,264 companies that may be part of the problem.
Furthermore, it examines how transparent companies are being about their efforts to reduce the chances that children are toiling in fields, factories and fishing boats to produce their goods. It demands greater transparency from companies to publicly report these efforts.
"From tomatoes to textiles, almost anything that Canadians consume and use daily could be linked to child and forced labour. Today's products come to you as a courtesy of a string of contractors and subcontractors, each with different employment standards. Child and forced labour aren't just international issues they are Canadian issues that need to be fought right here at home," says Cheryl Hotchkiss, manager of World Vision's No Child for Sale campaign.
"Given that last year Canada imported $34.3 billion goods that were at a high risk of being made by child or forced labour, no company can afford to turn a blind eye. Consumers, investors and business partners need to see Canadian supply chain legislation put in place that would require companies to publicly report on what they are doing to address child and forced labour in their supply chains," says Simon Lewchuk, World Vision's Senior Policy Advisor for Sustainable Economic Development
  • Of the sample of Canadian companies that were shown to be importing high-risk goods, more than half have not publicly reported their efforts to reduce the risk of child or forced labour in their supply chains.
  • Canada's food industry was found to be the least transparent about their supply chains despite that the agricultural sector has the highest rates of child labour with 60 per cent of all child labourers working in jobs like farming and fishing.
  • Mid-size and private companies are particularly lacking in reporting and transparency.
  • Canadian imports of 50 high-risk products are worth nearly $35 billion, roughly equivalent to the GDP or Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • With nearly 3000 Canadians having taken part in World Vision's two-week Conscious Consumer Challenge in May, it is clear that consumers want to make ethical buying decisions. However, this report shows that even the most proactive shoppers are unable to make informed choices.