Frequently Asked Questions

Of the 160 million child labourers around the world, 79 million are engaged in dirty, dangerous and degrading work. These are the worst forms of child labour, involving hazardous working conditions that endanger the health, safety or moral development of a child.

The worst forms of child labour can also include night work, work with heavy machinery, work for excessively long hours, or work that takes place underground or underwater. Approximately 4.3 million children work in forced labour, which includes children in situations of debt bondage, slavery and commercial sexual exploitation.

Unsafe child labour practices are defined in part by the number of working hours for a specific child’s age. Unsafe child labour includes:

  • Any of the worst forms of child labour
  • Any labour performed by a child under the age of 12
  • More than 14 hours of work, per week, by a child aged 12-14
  • More than 43 hours of work, per week, by a child aged 15-17

We understand that for many families, children must work in order to contribute to the family’s income or workload. Our aim is not to eliminate all child labour, but to address the worst forms of child labour – specifically dirty, dangerous and degrading work. We believe that no child should be placed in hazardous work environments that compromise their physical, emotional, social and spiritual development.

If a child must work, their work environment should be safe and supervised, with schedules that allow for them to attend school, get proper rest and have sufficient time for social development.

Unfortunately, yes. According to research conducted in 2016, more than 1,200 companies operating in Canada are known to be importing goods at a high risk of being produced by a child or through forced labour. The majority of these companies are disclosing very little, if any, information on the policies, practices and processes they have in place to address these risks.

This means that the average Canadian is likely to be connected to child labour through the everyday products we buy and consume.

Most children in Canada who help their parents – on farms and in other family businesses – do so after school in safe, supervised environments. They have enough time to do their homework, play with friends and get a full night’s sleep. This is what we want for all kids, regardless of where in the world they live.

Yes. Australia, the Netherlands, France and the state of California have all advanced legislation. These new laws require companies to post comprehensive statements outlining the steps they have taken to address child and forced labour in their supply chains.

In 2015, the UK introduced its Transparency in Supply Chains provision as part of its Modern Slavery Act. This simple reporting requirement in the law provides consumers with the information they need to make ethical purchasing decisions.

The legislation is already driving significant corporate change in the UK, including:

  • A doubling of CEO engagement on modern slavery issues
  • New policies and systems being implemented by 39% of companies
  • A dramatic increase in communication between 58% of companies and their suppliers
  • Greater collaboration between 50% of companies and their stakeholders to take action against modern slavery

Canada is a leader in promoting the respect and dignity of all people, regardless of where they live. But we’re not yet doing our part to call for greater transparency in global supply chains. With a growing number of jurisdictions taking legislative action, it’s time for Canada to join the list of countries with transparency laws to become a global leader in addressing child and forced labour around the world.

Be on the lookout for the following symbols:


Where these symbols are used, a company has been independently verified to meet the standards for Fairtrade International Certified, Fairtrade USA Certified, Rainforest Alliance Certified, UTZ Certified and Fair for Life Certified products. When this isn’t available, engage with the brands you buy and the places you shop. Inquire about whether their products and supply chains are free of child labour.

You can join thousands of other Canadians in calling on our government for greater supply chain transparency, which enables us all to be better informed about the products we buy and consume.

A supply chain is the system of organizations, people, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product or service from the supplier to the customer. Supply chains can include many touchpoints and be very difficult to follow. For example, a shoe might have its sole glued on in one factory, travel elsewhere to get laces, be packaged in a different facility and make a few additional stops before being shipped to Canada. A child labourer involved in any step of this lengthy process can connect the product, and the consumer, to child labour.

With more than 79 million children globally working in dirty, dangerous and degrading jobs, child labour still runs rampant in our world today. The numbers are staggering and demonstrate the size and scope of the problem. Because so many of the products in Canada come from other countries where children are engaged in the worst forms of child labour, Canadians have an opportunity to help address the problem – both as consumers and as advocates.

No. Supply Chain Transparency legislation would simply implement a reporting requirement to help Canadians make more informed, ethical decisions about what they buy and who they buy from. The legislation would not limit operations, dictate specific actions, or require the disclosure of proprietary information.

The legislation would only apply to large corporations that have the capacity and resources to meet the requirements and create effective change within their supply chains. Most importantly, it would apply universally to all large corporations operating in Canada – not only corporations headquartered in Canada. Many major corporations, including Amazon, IKEA and Marks & Spencer, have voiced their support for this type of legislation in the UK.