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Canadian Policy on Forced Labour in International Supply Chains

Amidst increasing awareness of Canadian business ties to forced labour overseas, the government is being urged to make better use of the legal and policy tools at its disposal to attack this problem.

In this short backgrounder we take stock of Canada’s existing legislation and policies of relevance to forced labour in international supply chains, and how they are — or aren’t — being enforced.

This includes Canada’s Customs Tariff ban on importing products of forced labour, adopted in 2020 and modelled after a similar provision in U.S. law. We break down how Canada’s enforcement approach differs dramatically from that of the U.S., in ways that may continue to result in the ban rarely being applied. 

The backgrounder also briefly looks at

  • the Fighting Against Forced Labour and Child Labour in Supply Chains Act, a corporate reporting law recently adopted but not yet in force
  • sanctions legislation, which could be used to restrict Canadian business with foreign companies or industries involved in systematic forced labour schemes;
  • policies meant to encourage supply chain due diligence by companies that the Canadian government does business with, or that receive its trade or financial support;
  • complaint review and mediation offices meant to promote “responsible business practices” by Canadian companies.

To read the backgrounder:

This is an updated version of a backgrounder first published in August 2022