Canadian investors have placed their support behind the recommendation made in a Parliamentary report calling for legislation to ensure businesses disclose steps they are taking to address child labour and forced labour in global supply chains.
The Subcommittee on International Human Rights presented its report to the House of Commons in Ottawa this week. ‘A Call to Action: Ending the Use of All Forms of Child Labour in Supply Chains’ offers seven recommendations, such as developing incentives for businesses to thoroughly and continually monitor their supply chains for the use of child labour and forced labour, and to share best practices.
“No investor wants to be associated with egregious human rights abuses like forced or child labour,” says Delaney Greig, manager of engagement and policy at the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE). “An effective and fair regulatory regime helps promote the kind of responsible business practices that de-risk investments and promote positive growth for investors. When it’s coupled with clear public disclosure requirements, investors are better able to play their part in ending human rights abuses in global supply chains.”
In recent years, other jurisdictions have introduced legislation to galvanise the private sector to eliminate forced labour, human trafficking and other forms of exploitation, including child labour, from supply chains.
California and the UK passed legislation in 2010 and 2015, respectively, requiring businesses over a certain size to disclose what efforts, if any, they have made to end the use of forced labour, human trafficking and other forms of exploitation in their supply chains.
Australia has committed to passing similar legislation, while more recent legislative initiatives in France – passed in 2017 – and, potentially, the Netherlands go further, requiring large companies to identify risks and develop due diligence strategies. The former targets a broad array of human rights violations as well as harm to health and the environment, while the Dutch bill focuses specifically on child labour.
Canada’s Parliamentary report is recommending the Government of Canada develop similar legislative and policy initiatives that require transparency and motivate businesses to eliminate the use of any form of child labour in their global supply chains.
“SHARE welcomes the report from the Parliamentary Subcommittee on Human Rights,” says Greig. “We are asking the Government of Canada to get in step with global peers to develop an effective, consistent and responsive system for human rights due diligence to protect our interests both as citizens and as investors.”