Canadian efforts to counter forced labour in global supply chains made headlines this week, as the government stopped a contract with a Malaysian company accused of abusing foreign workers in its plants.

On January 18, Canada terminated two health-sector-grade rubber glove supply contracts worth $222 million with the Malaysian company Supermax Healthcare Canada. From reports as far back as 2013 and 2014, we’ve known the company employs migrant workers under abusive terms, including high “recruitment fees,” the confiscation of passports, long hours, and overcrowded living accommodations.

Still, it took the Canadian government nearly a year to arrive at its final decision after initially giving Supermax a pass. In January 2021, the government asked six Malaysian glove suppliers, including Supermax, to provide their own assessments on due diligence, practices, and policies they were conducting to avoid forced labour. The companies complied, and Canada took no further action.