On Thursday, April 28, 2022, the Senate of Canada passed Bill S-211, the Fighting Against Forced Labour and Child Labour in Supply Chains Act, sending the legislation to the House of Commons. After four prior attempts dating back to 2018, the Senate’s passage of Bill S-211 marks the most significant progress for modern slavery legislation in Canadian history.
Bill S-211 is a transparency bill that would require businesses and government institutions to report annually on the risk of forced labour and child labour in their supply chains, and the policies and due diligence processes they have in place to detect and limit such abuses. Reports would be publicly available and non-complying businesses would face fines of up to $250,000.
The Bill also amends the Customs Tariff to allow for a potential ban on importation of goods produced by child labour. In its current form, Bill S-211 is an amended and improved version of predecessor bills introduced by Senator Miville-Dechêne in 2020, and of Bill C-423, introduced by M.P. John McKay in 2018.
“This Bill is a first step in the right direction. Forced labour and child labour are complex issues, and we cannot hope to eliminate them through legislation. But I believe S-211 is a reasonable, pragmatic approach that will raise awareness of modern slavery in corporate boardrooms and can lead to positive change. I thank my Senate colleagues for their support, especially members of the Human Rights committee, and I’m happy to see the debate now move to the House.” –Senator Julie Miville-Dechêne
“I am pleased to build upon the important initiative of Senator Miville-Dechêne and to act as its sponsor in the House. This is an idea whose time has come. The Forced Labour in Supply Chains Act reflects both the Liberal and Conservative Party’s platform commitments made in the last election. I hope that my Commons colleagues will work constructively to push this Bill forward.” –M.P. John McKay
Bill S-211 is non-partisan legislation that has benefited from the unwavering support of the All-Party Parliamentary Group to End Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking and its co-chairs, which include Conservative M.P. Arnold Viersen and Bloc M.P. Andréanne Larouche, in addition to Senator Miville-Dechêne and M.P. John McKay. In the House of Commons, Bill S-211 will join other bills aimed at fighting modern slavery, including its companion Bill C-243, sponsored by M.P. Marcus Powlowski.
Bill S-211 is inspired from, and improves upon, existing supply chains legislation in the United Kingdom and Australia. Passage of Bill S-211 in the House would provide the federal government with a reasonable, pragmatic and efficient way to fulfill its promise to finally enact modern slavery legislation in Canada after years of delay and inaction.
The original press release can be downloaded here
For more information:
Office of Senator Miville-Dechêne
Office of the Honourable John McKay
First reading of Bill S-211 was completed by the Senate on November 24th, 2021. Second reading wad completed on December 14th, 2021. Third and final reading was completed on April 28th, 2022. The Bill was passed, with amendments that day.
The Bill now moves over to the House of commons. First reading was completed on May 3rd, 2022.
You can follow this process online