by Fairtrade Canada

Fairtrade Canada applauds today’s call to end exploitative child labour published by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. The report entitled, “A Call to Action: Ending the Use of All Forms of Child Labour in Supply Chains,” offers concrete, actionable recommendations, including legislative action, to work towards the eradication of child and forced labour in supply chains.

Modern slavery affects an estimated 40.3 million people around the world, many of them producing goods ultimately destined for Canadian supply chains; one in four of the victims of child slavery are children. We are uniting our voice with other Canadian NGOs and urging the Government of Canada to expedite the consultation process by immediately convening a multi-stakeholder task force to address this injustice.

“The Canadian Government has the opportunity to become a world leader by creating a model Modern Slavery Act. Given the scope and scale of the problem, no country can turn a blind eye to the realities of modern slavery,” says Julie Francoeur, Executive Director at Fairtrade Canada. “The Government must commit to taking bold and immediate action to address child and forced labour in supply chains.”

To ensure concrete, enforceable actions, this task force should include civil society, trade union, investor, private sector and government representatives operating with clear timelines and deliverables, to advise on the options for and details of supply chain legislation and regulations.

Fair trade and other successful alternative trade models demonstrate that working with companies, organisations and communities to minimise and mitigate the risks of modern slavery, child labour and exploitation in supply chains globally contributes to improved livelihoods and more sustainable trade. Fairtrade Canada already works with more than 200 Canadian companies who are committed to due diligence on human rights for the products they offer to Canadian consumers.

The Government of Canada has a moral and ethical obligation to use the recommendations in this report to not ONLY address child and forced labour in Canadian supply chains, but also contribute to the eradication of modern slavery worldwide.

Modern Slavery – Truth in the Numbers

  • The ILO estimates that in 2016, an estimated 40.3 million people were in modern slavery.
  • 1 in 4 victims of modern slavery are children.
  • 15.4 million are victims of forced marriage.
  • Canadian imports “risky products” valued in the billions.

Read the full Report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development here: http://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/FAAE/report-19

The image above shows children of members of SCINPA – a Fairtrade-certified cocoa-producing coop in Agboville, Ivory Coast. SCINPA has 2,500 members with farms mainly between 5 and 10 hectares. Their members earn around 90% of their income from cocoa and their harvests have recently been badly affected by climate change and drought. The coop is using Fairtrade premium payments for building schools, with the goal of eliminating child labor in the area.

Photo by Sean Hawkey.

Child Protection Forced Labour HREDD