Canada in its bid to stop organizations and industries from exploiting their workers has put a new law in place. The Canadian Senate has passed the law, and it will soon be in effect. Soon, organizations would have to report the actions they have taken to ban goods made by forced workers. Canadian lawyers like Me Jean Francois Goulet Avocat have applauded this move, saying that the new law will change many things. Me Jean-François Goulet Avocat is a constitutional and criminal lawyer in Canada. He has handled many high-profile cases, therefore, he knows much about Canada’s constitution.
About the New Labour Law
Me Jean François Goulet stated that Canada’s new law is to monitor any firm that is encouraging forced labour. Very soon, firms will be required to stop any products made by forced labourers. They should also report the steps taken to prevent these goods from entering the market. This is in a bid to curb the practice of forcing people to work under bad conditions in Canada. Furthermore, organizations are expected to write in detail if there is a possibility of forced labour during the production of goods. If such occurs, how did the organization address the issue? What plan does the organization have to prevent future occurrences of the incident?
When Was the Law Passed?
The new law named ‘S-211’ was passed as a bill in 2022 after much deliberation. This bill was sponsored by a Canadian lawmaker and many supported her decision. Lawyer Me Jean-François Goulet Avocat also supported the bill as it will reduce employment slavery in Canada. Additionally, a Canadian senator called the new law a step in the right direction. It is a wake-up call for Canadians to stop using or endorsing goods made by forced workers.
Countries with the Same Law as Canada
Canada is not the only Western country to pass this type of labour law. Other countries like Germany, and the U.S.A. have put laws in place to end modern slavery.
The United States
What the United States did was stop products coming from Xinjiang, a region in China. Xinjiang is a region in China where forced labour is rampant. The country aggressively enforces this law as a way of supporting workers working in unfavourable conditions in Xinjiang. The U.S.A. further gave those in charge of enforcing the law adequate resources and power. Other countries in the American continent have followed suit.
In January 2023, Germany mandated companies to carefully find out any act of human rights and environmental violations within their organizations. This also includes their manufacturing and supply chain departments. According to the new German rule, no firm should force their workers to work in terrible states or their rights.
The United Kingdom and Australia
Both countries already have this law in place, and it is known as the ‘Modern Slavery Act’. To further show its commitment to its workforce and citizens, the U.K. pledged to tighten the law.
Why Canada’s New Labour Law is Very Strict
Unfortunately, some countries are yet to emulate Canada in passing strict laws on companies in their countries. An example is France. France has lax labour laws that only apply to very few companies and let them get away with many things. It’s a requirement in France for employers with over 9000 workers worldwide to know their supply chain networks. But many companies violate this rule.
Consequently, companies in France don’t take forced labour seriously nor do their due diligence in addressing and preventing forced labour. This makes workers unsatisfied in France and has poor work output while at work. “The Canadian government doesn’t want that to happen in Canada,” explained Jean-François Goulet Avocat.
Reception in Canada
Mixed reactions are trailing the announcement of the new law. Some people criticized the government, while others approved the law. Some criticized the way the law doesn’t ban companies from receiving goods with forced labour to their supply chain outlets. The law only forced them to report any goods made through forced labour to the relevant authorities.
Penalties for Violating the Labour Law
Three years ago, Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. had an agreement. The agreement is to ban the importation of forced labour products into the three countries. However, some businesses have tried to illegally smuggle such products since the agreement was made. Fortunately, they were caught, and the apprehended people confessed and were punished.
In addition, those who violate the law would be fined 250,000 CAD, and repeat offenders will face stricter punishment. The same goes for those that give false reports to the authority just to damage the company’s reputation.
How will the Law Affect the Supply Chain Industry?
Labour law in Canada is increasingly becoming complex. If you plan to open a company in the country, know and understand what you need to do. It will help you to be a law-abiding businessman. For those in the supply chain sector, the ever-changing labour law has an impact on their compliance policies. It is especially more difficult for those in supply chain industries like medical devices, electronics, and many more.
Finally, Me Jean-François Goulet Avocat urged companies in Canada not to exploit their workers and treat them fairly. They should not overwork them and stick to the legal working hours. Doing otherwise means they are promoting and practising forced labour, which is against the law.