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Why modern slavery laws are not the answer

By Joëlle Kabisoso, Campaign Officer – Advocacy and Mobilization

Although some groups support Bill S-211, Development and Peace and its allies think Canada needs much stronger due diligence laws to ensure corporate accountability.

Recently, Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada and the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA) learned of people being invited to sign a letter addressed to the Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Labour. The letter is being circulated by World Vision Canada, Fairtrade Canada (a certification agency) and Supply Chain Canada (an industry association).

Development and Peace and the CNCA are deeply concerned that the content of the letter might be used to justify Canada’s highly problematic “new” Responsible Business Conduct Strategy, which supports the private member’s Bill S-211, the modern slavery reporting bill. This deeply flawed bill seeks to combat modern slavery and child labour through a reporting-only process and focuses on enhancing Canadian businesses’ access to international markets whilst promoting living wages. And while it can be argued that this is a step in the right direction, corporate reporting and living wages do not necessarily guarantee corporate accountability. Consequently, any letter that supports this type of approach can compromise the movement for strong due diligence standards and derail efforts to get Canada to legislate them.

On June 1, 2022, Bill S-211 was brought to a second reading in the House of Commons and was voted in. It will now move to be studied in committee. It is imperative that Canadians instead support the implementation of the much stronger and more comprehensive private member’s Bill C-262, which would require mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence (mHREDD) procedures. This bill, co-signed by the Bloc Quebecois and New Democratic Party, should be the standard model law.

To continue to amplify the voices of our sisters and brothers in the Global South and to ensure that Canada adopts laws that put people and the planet first, we urge you to sign our petition and meet with your local MPs!

Development and Peace animation team members holding up People and Planet First signs in support of our campaign.

About Development and Peace

Development and Peace — Caritas Canada is the official international development organization of the Catholic Church in Canada. It works in partnership with local organizations in over 30 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin American and the Middle East to create greater justice in the world and to act in solidarity with the most vulnerable people.

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