World Vision Canada is releasing an updated version of its Good Chocolate Guide
to help Canadians do the right thing and buy certified FairTrade chocolate as part of its ongoing effort to eliminate labour exploitation around the world.
Chocolate is just one of many products consumed by Canadians that is at a high risk of being connected to child labour – an issue that is a lot closer to Canada than we’d like to think, according to the international development agency.
Extreme poverty in countries such as Brazil, Ghana, and Sierra Leone push parents to send their children to work on cocoa and sugar farms, often in dirty, dangerous and degrading conditions to support their family. In 2020, according to World Vision research, Canada imported more than $312 million in cocoa that may have used and abused child and forced labour. That same year, risky Canadian imports of Sugarcane & Cane sugar, chocolate’s other main ingredient, totalled more than $527 million.
There are now 160 million girls and boys in child labour worldwide and COVID-19 is making the problem worse. The International Labour Organization estimates that an additional eight-million children have already been pushed into child labour as a result of the pandemic.
For the past decade, World Vision Canada has been calling on the Government of Canada to join many of its international trade partners in introducing supply chain legislation. This would require companies to publicly report on the measures being taken to prevent and reduce risks of child and forced labour in their supply chains.
The president of World Vision Canada, Michael Messenger, says he is encouraged by recent commitments to eradicate forced labour from Canadian supply chains in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s mandate letter to Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan.
“After many years of pushing, there are indications the federal government is taking this issue seriously,” says Messenger. “Canadian connections to a global child and forced labour problem continue to worsen. The time for strong action is now, and we hope to see government take more steps towards action in the next few months.”
Messenger adds that the Canadian grocery industry has both a responsibility and a role to play in ending child labour in food supply chains by voicing their support for Canadian supply chain legislation.
“Canadian consumers have a right to be able to make informed choices based on where their products come from, who makes them and how they are made,” Messenger says.
Have a heart by stamping out the growing problem of child and forced labour this Valentine’s Day.