Bill S-211, An Act to enact the Fighting Against Forced Labour and Child Labour in Supply Chains Act and to amend the Customs Tariff, received Royal Assent on May 11, 2023 and is in force January 1, 2024. Companies and certain government institutions are required to review and assess working conditions in their extended supply chains and produce their first annual report by May 31, 2024.
The law requires organizations report on the steps they are executing to mitigate the risks of child and forced labour in their extended supply chain. They must report on the steps they have taken to remediate the lost income in a community that may have been impacted by their mitigation of forced and child labour. They also must report on training provided to employees and describe how they measure the effectiveness of their due diligence processes.
The legislation’s stated purpose is for Canada to “contribute to the fight against modern slavery,” as a party to the International Labour Organization’s Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No.29), the Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957 (No.105) and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No.182). Canada has ratified Conventions No.29 (in June 2011), No.105 (in July 1959) and No.182 (in June 2000) and is therefore bound by their terms. The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a specialized UN agency devoted to promoting social justice and labour rights. The ILO, within its tripartite structure that includes representatives of governments, employers and workers, creates and supervises international labour standards, such as those referenced above.
Sonia Regenbogen, who has served as the global employer spokesperson for the Committee on the Application of Standards at the International Labour Organization (ILO) and has analyzed the obligations for governments of international labour standards, notes that this legislation imposes significant reporting requirements on companies. She notes that this proposed legislation includes a requirement that companies to which this new legislation applies will be required to file their reports in a registry that the federal government is developing, which will be publicly available and searchable. Companies also must post their report on their public-facing website.
Failure to comply with reporting obligations will invite a potential fine of up to $250,000, which may also apply to directors, officers, and agents.
If you have any questions about this topic, or any questions relating to workplace law generally, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer.