Many Canadians are still unaware of the involvement of forced child labor in the products they buy, according to World Vision Canada (WVC), a non-profit organization.
Child labor saw its first increase in two decades in 2021, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 79 million children involved in forced labor in 2022, the International Labor Organization estimates.
In early June, the government addressed the issue of forced child labor in corporate supply chains and expressed support for Bill S-211, which would require Canadian companies and government departments to monitor supply chains. supply to protect workers.
“We’re finally starting to see some movement,” Katherine Dibbon, a youth leader with World Vision Canada, told CTV’s news channel on Saturday.
“Proposed by Senator (Julie) Miville-Dechene, (the bill) aims to protect the rights of children and inform consumers in Canada.
Dibbon says that while there’s not much most Canadians can do to stop child labor from scratch, it’s likely that many consumers will do their part by avoiding buying from certain companies once the legislation will require them to be transparent about their workers.
Nearly 160,000 Canadians have signed up to the World Vision Canada program petition urging the government to require companies to prevent human rights abuses in all of their operations and to publicly report on their progress.
In 2020, the Canadian government banned the importation of goods produced by forced labor under the customs tariff.
The new law should require Canadian companies and federal departments to report annually on measures taken to prevent and reduce the risk of forced labor or child labor being used by them or in their supply chains.
“We are encouraged by recent progress by the Government of Canada to advance key legislation to help address this issue,” Michael Messenger, President and CEO of World Vision Canada, said in a statement.
“With child labor on the rise for the first time in 20 years due to the global pandemic and other factors, Canada’s child labor problem will continue to escalate without bold action to address it. Canadians must be able to make fully informed purchasing decisions. “
With files from The Canadian Press