OTTAWA — Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan says the Liberal government is planning legislation to make Canadian companies ensure that they are not using slave labour or exploiting child workers overseas.
In an interview, O’Regan said he is preparing a “comprehensive” bill that would require Canadian firms and government departments to scrutinize supply chains with the aim of protecting workers.
There is widespread support in Parliament, including among Liberal and New Democrat MPs, for such a law, he said.
The bill would make Canadian firms do due diligence to make sure none of their products or components are made in sweatshops that employ children or force people to work excessive hours for paltry pay.
O’Regan said the issue is a matter of “urgency,” and he is looking at how to frame the legislation most effectively.
“There are two things that we are looking at: There should be some transparency requirements for business to report on supply chains. The other is more due diligence, demanding that they check.”
The minister is closely examining the texts of four private members bills now before Parliament with similar aims. They include a bill originally introduced by Liberal MP John McKay that is now being shepherded by his colleague Marcus Powlowski.
The NDP has introduced two similar bills, and a private member’s bill from Sen. Julie Miville-Dechene combating forced labour is currently progressing through Parliament.
O’Regan said he has not decided whether to introduce a stand-alone government bill or to adapt one of the existing efforts.
“We have four private members’ bills. It’s an embarrassment of riches,” he said. “So we have to take a close look at all of them.”
McKay said he would be open to the government adopting or modifying the text of his bill.
O’Regan said there is backing within all parties for a law cleaning up supply chains.
“Members around the House are seized with the issue and I am very happy about that,” he added. “It is something that our caucus is really quite taken with.”
The planned law, which follows a government consultation, would make sure that Canadian businesses operating abroad look at how their goods are produced and do not contribute to human rights abuses.
O’Regan was asked by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take the lead on the file upon being appointed labour minister after the summer election.
A report by the House of Commons international human rights subcommittee called on the government to incentivize businesses to thoroughly monitor their supply chains for the use of child and forced labour.
The report said that in 2016, 4.3 million children were involved in forced labour, a figure the International Labour Organization warned was an underestimate.
The committee report warned that child labour most often occurs at the lowest tiers of the supply chain out of the sight of buyers, inspectors and consumers. In South and Southeast Asia children have been found making clothes, fishing and processing seafood.
The report found child labour interferes with young peoples’ education and can involve work in hazardous conditions, including with toxic substances or at extreme temperatures.
It can also include confinement at work sites and indentured labour, where whole families are forced to work to repay debts.
Rocio Domingo Ramos, business and human rights policy and research officer at Anti-Slavery International, said Canada is lagging behind countries such as Britain, France, Germany and Norway, which have already introduced laws making companies ensure their products are not made using forced labour.
The group has seen the emergence of laws that would not only prevent exploitation but “crucially, enable victims of these abuses to access justice,” she said.
In 2020, the Canadian government prohibited importation of goods produced by forced labour under the customs tariff.
The new law is expected to require Canadian companies and federal departments to report each year on measures taken to prevent and reduce the risk that forced labour or child labour is used by them or in their supply chains.
It would also likely include an inspection regime and give the minister power to demand evidence.
In February, a group of parliamentarians and former parliamentarians wrote to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland calling for the introduction of a modern slavery act that could regulate pension-fund investments.
That followed a report by Hong Kong Watch alleging that a number of pension funds have investments in firms involved in China’s Xinjiang region, where the Uyghur people have been detained in camps.
New Democrat MP Peter Julian, who introduced one of the private bills, said a government law is “long past overdue.”
“The reality is that if Canadians knew what some Canadian corporations are doing abroad they would be absolutely appalled at their systematic violation of human rights.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 20, 2022.
Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press
The Canadian Congress on Inclusive Diversity & Workplace Equity presents the 2nd Annual George Floyd Memorial Lecture
TORONTO, May 18, 2022 – The Canadian Congress on Inclusive Diversity and Workplace Equity (Canadian Congress) brings you the 2nd annual George Floyd Memorial Lecture on Wednesday, May 25, 2022, 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM EDT. Canadian Congress supports & empowers people by the exchange of ideas & strategic training on progressive ways of eliminating systemic racism in the country & transforming the culture of their organizations. May 25th will mark the second anniversary of the killing of George Floyd.
The Memorial Lecture, which is also the call for a National Social Justice Day, presents leaders in organizations, institutions, and the government to learn and discuss the strategic actions they have been taking since the video that changed the world two years ago; or has it? Join the conversation, Wednesday, May 25th, as prominent social justice advocates, community activists, diversity consultants, community, corporate, religious, academic, and political leaders equip thousands of people with tips, tools, techniques, training, and technology to eliminate racism and discrimination.
This year’s theme is The Quest for Black Representation, Empowerment & Brilliance, while enlightening delegates on the UN’s Resolution 68/237 proclaiming 2015 to 2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent. The 2nd George Floyd Memorial Lecture will bring together a lineup of exceptional speakers, which includes the following:
Alex Ihama, Executive Director of the Canadian Congress on Inclusive Diversity, President, International School of Greatness and a global strategist, executive coach, professional speaker & author of The Mystique of Leadership.
Isaac Olowolafe Jr., an award-winning entrepreneur, philanthropist, board member at the Sick Kids Hospital, Founder/CEO, of The Dream Maker Realty and Olowolafe Family Scholarship Award at the University of Toronto, the largest endowment for African Studies in any Canadian university.
Patricia DeGuire, Chief Commissioner, Ontario Human Rights Commission, and a mediator, adjudicator, and arbitrator in human rights and equity for more than 25 years.
Rosemary Sadlier, OOnt (Order of Ontario), a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion consultant; past President of the Ontario Black History Society & author of seven books on African Canadian history.
Farley Flex, a Partner at Urban Rez Solutions – Social Enterprise, a former Canadian Idol judge, an inductee into the Scarborough Walk of Fame, recipient of the Harry Jerome Award for Entertainment and Community Service, the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Award for Protecting the World’s Most Vulnerable Children and two Juno Awards as Manager of Maestro Fresh-Wes.
Dr. Helen Ofosu, an Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Carleton University.
Dr. Pat Francis, global transformation speaker, author, business consultant, pastor of the Kingdom Covenant Ministries & Founder of the Canadian Black Directorate and For a Better Canada.
Pauline Christian, award-winning entrepreneur and community advocate, immediate Past- President of the Black Business & Professional Association (BBPA) & Founder/CEO of Best Lifestyle Residence.
Dr. Ardavan Eizadirad, Assistant Professor, Wilfrid Laurier University & author, Decolonizing Educational Assessment: Ontario Elementary Students and the EQAO.
Dr. Wesley Crichlow, a Critical Race Intersectional Theorist at the Ontario Tech University and co-author of Diversity Issues in Policing.
Ray Williams, ICD.D, Managing Director & Vice Chairman of Financial Markets at National Bank Financial & Co-Founder of the Black Opportunity Fund which is committed to dismantling the impacts of systemic racism by providing funding and helping to build the capacity of Canadian Black led businesses.
Tiffany Callender, CEO of the Federation of African Canadian Economics (FACE), a coalition of Canadian Black business support organizations that worked with the federal government to co-develop and administer the $291.3 million Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund.
Kevin Junor, retired Deputy Superintendent from the Ministry of the Solicitor General & Regimental Sergeant Major; an awardee of the Order of Military Merit & Harry Jerome Professional Excellence
Dr. Delores Mullings, the inaugural Vice-Provost for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at the Memorial University in Newfoundland, and Labrador; author of Confronting Anti-Black Racism.
Tonya Williams, the Canadian actress, producer, director, and activist who is globally known for her role as Dr. Olivia Barber Winters on the American daytime drama The Young and the Restless; also, the Founder & Executive Director of Reelworld Screen Institute & Festival.
Neville Wright, a 3x Olympian who spent almost two decades as an athlete representing Canada on the World Stage in Track and Field and Bobsleigh; a performance therapist and resilience coach.
Dr. Francis Mpindu, York Region Police Chaplain for almost two decades, Community & Police Relations facilitator, Workplace Fairness Analyst, and the Founder of Niigon Abin Resolutions Services.
Fareed Khan; human rights advocate, a regular journalist on CBC, CTV, Global, Canadian Press, Toronto Star, OMNI, and Founder/CEO of the anti-racism group, Canadian United Against Hate.
In addition to other executives at the Canadian Congress, Chrissy Benz, Henry Luyombya, Moy Fung and Roberto Hausman & a series of entertainers which include the globally renowned Dwayne Morgan, two-time Canadian National Poetry Slam Champion, there is a segment for a group of mayors to share their municipal strategy to dismantle colonialism, embrace diversity & build cohesive cities and towns.
Confirmed mayors are Kassim Doumbia of Shippagan, New Brunswick and the only Black mayor in Canada, and Amarjeet Sohi of Edmonton, Alberta. Others are Philip Brown of Charlottetown, Edward Macaulay of the town of Three Rivers and Basil Stewart of Summerside, all on Prince Edwards Island.
According to Nosakhare Alex Ihama, the Executive Director of the Canadian Congress on Inclusive Diversity & Workplace Equity and Executive Producer of the George Floyd Memorial Lecture:
“No call for social justice can be louder than the graphic live transmission of the modern-day lynching of George Floyd, with no mercy on the part of the law, law enforcers and inequitable justice of our days, even as the dying man cried repeatedly for his long-dead mom to come to his rescue. Two years after over a billion people watched the gruesome murder of George Floyd live on social media, the unjust killings of Black men and women by the police are still on the rise. When coupled with mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, only about a week before Floyd’s second death anniversary, it is clear we need more allies to help reduce these atrocities towards people of African descent.”
Tickets are free and available at www.canadiancongressondiversity.ca.
THE CANADIAN CONGRESS ON INCLUSIVE DIVERSITY & WORKPLACE EQUITY
The Canadian Congress is a national organization with over 100 academic and experiential experts, researchers, and facilitators in Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) that offers an end-to-end strategic framework for organizations, institutions, and the government to eliminate systemic racism from their brand, culture, systems, policies, and management.
To enable organizations to foster a cohesive, inclusive, and progressive corporate culture, we facilitate customized training programs, audit policies and processes from an EDI lens, engage their staff and coach their executives to maximize Inclusive Diversity & Workplace Equity.
While we organize some of the largest and most impactful events in the country, empowering thousands of Canadians each year to stand up for social justice, we also help organizations to develop and implement short & long-term corporate EDI strategies, specialized EDI initiatives, content for Learning Management Systems (LMS), and a three-to-five-year corporate strategy and strategic roadmap to facilitate the transformation of their corporate culture.
For more information about this or other programs by the Canadian Congress, sponsorship packages, strategic partnerships and opportunities to develop corporate EDI strategies, audit policies from an EDI lens and facilitate corporate workshops and other EDI services for your organization, contact Henry Luyombya at +1-416-854-8935 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep up with Canadian Congress on Inclusive Diversity & Workplace Equity:
For more media inquiries and interviews, kindly contact Sasha Stoltz Publicity, Sasha Stoltz | Sasha@sashastoltzpublicity.com | 416.579.4804
China has lifted a 3-year ban on Canadian canola, Ottawa says – CBC News
A three-year Chinese ban on Canadian canola has come to an end, according to the federal government.
In a joint statement released Wednesday afternoon, Trade Minister Mary Ng and Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said China has reinstated market access for two Canadian grain trading companies that have been prevented from exporting canola seed to China since March 2019.
“We welcome this decision to remove the restrictions and immediately reinstate the two companies to allow them to export Canadian canola seeds,” the statement said.
“Canada will always firmly uphold the international rules-based trade system and related dispute settlement mechanisms, as well as a science-based approach to resolving such issues.”
In March 2019, the Chinese government blocked canola shipments from Canadian companies Richardson International Ltd. and Viterra Inc. by suspending their licences, alleging the detection of pests in canola shipments.
The move followed the arrest of Chinese tech giant Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver a few months earlier.
In September of 2019, Canada took the canola dispute to the World Trade Organization. A WTO dispute resolution panel was composed in November 2021.
Before the trade tensions, the Chinese market made up 40 per cent of Canada’s canola exports.
According to the Canola Council of Canada, seed exports to China have fallen from $2.8 billion in 2018 before the restrictions, to $800 million in 2019, $1.4 billion in 2020 and $1.8 billion in 2021.
The industry organization estimates the dispute cost the industry between $1.54 billion and $2.35 billion from lost sales and lower prices between March 2019 and August 2020 alone.
“This is a positive step forward, restoring full trade in canola with China and ensuring that all Canadian exporters are treated equally by the Chinese administration,” said Canola Council of Canada President Jim Everson in a news release.
“We will continue efforts to nurture and maintain a predictable, rules-based trade environment.”
Canada is the world’s largest producer of canola. It is one of the most widely grown crops in Canada, and is currently trading at all-time record highs as the war in Ukraine drives up prices for agricultural commodities.
Canola is primarily used to make cooking oil, but can also be used as livestock feed and to make biodiesel.
Tangled in Canada's immigration backlog? What you can do about the delay – National | Globalnews.ca – Global News
Dixon D’mello hasn’t seen his wife since she left India and came to Canada for university 10 months ago.
D’mello, who lives in Mumbai working as a lawyer, says looking after two young kids – aged 1 and 3 years – without their mom around has been “very difficult.”
“Especially the children are missing their mom,” the 39-year-old told Global News. “A young child without its mom, how can he survive?”
His wife is enrolled in a two-year program at the Red Deer Polytechnic in Alberta.
The family applied for a Spouse Open Work Permit (SOWP) for D’mello and a temporary resident visa for the children in July 2021 and since then, has received no updates to their applications from the Canadian immigration department.
“We have done our … medical and then our biometrics. We are just waiting,” says D’mello.
He is not alone.
Displaced Ukrainians struggling to obtain Canadian visas
More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, wait times for immigration applications to come to Canada continue to be a concern, with many people stuck in limbo and growing impatient.
There are currently more than two million immigration applications for citizenship, permanent residence and temporary residence in the inventory, according to the latest figures from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) shared with Global News this month.
While travel restrictions and other constraints brought on by the pandemic have caused long delays, the war in Ukraine this year has only added to the inventory backlog, IRCC says.
“Despite our considerable efforts, we know that some applicants have experienced considerable wait times with the processing of their applications, and we continue to work as hard as possible to reduce processing times,“ said Rémi Larivière, an IRCC spokesperson, in an email.
IRCC is trying to play catch up and reduce wait times with additional funding, hiring new processing staff, digitizing applications and reallocating work among offices around the world, Larivière said.
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But for those applicants tangled in the backlog, there is “a lot of frustration” as they wait to be reunited with family members or get work permits, immigration lawyers say.
“Many of them are waiting for months and months and months, and they don’t know what to do,” said Ravi Jain, a Toronto-based immigration lawyer and co-founder of the Canadian Immigration Law Association.
“Some of them are just distraught over how long it’s taking and they don’t have any answers as to how more long it could be,” he said, adding that customer service is at “an all-time low.”
What options do applicants have?
In March, the IRCC updated its processing times tool to “more accurately show” the expected wait times.
When D’mello filed his application last year the estimated wait time shown was 16 weeks. That has now gone up to 55 weeks.
Lawyers say the new tool has helped reduce the number of inquiries to IRCC and alleviate the anxiety for many applicants — but it doesn’t solve their problems.
“I think it’s a good initiative for sure … but … what you really need is someone to process the file,” said Jain.
The main way to communicate with the IRCC is to submit a web form through their website to follow up on the progress of an application, said Sonia Matkowsky, a partner at an immigration law firm based in Toronto whose firm has been helping the D’mello family.
“The majority of the time we receive a generic or automated response, basically saying your application is processing and there are delays due to COVID,” she said. “So we don’t really get any substantive information when we follow up.”
International students in limbo due to paperwork delays
However, for clients whose applications have been pending for a very long time, a judicial review by the federal court can be requested that often speeds up the process, Matkowsky says.
The federal court is asked to issue a mandamus, which is a court order that requests the IRCC to make a decision within a certain time period.
“If we can show that the processing times have been unreasonably delayed and it’s at no fault of the applicants, then the federal court is very cooperative and a lot of times we don’t even get to a hearing,” said Matkowsky.
Her firm has been able to settle cases with the Department of Justice lawyer and the counsel for the IRCC.
Delays in processing permanent residence applications causing ‘uncertainty’
Many applicants also try to follow up with MPs, which D’mello has tried without much luck.
He got a response saying there is absolutely nothing they can do and IRCC would be processing applications on a first-come-first-serve basis, D’mello said.
For people who submitted a visitor visa application before Sept. 7, 2021, whose situation has changed since then, the recommendation is to start a new online application.
In January 2021, the IRCC also introduced a new program that allows international students whose post-graduation work permit is no longer valid or is expiring to be extended for another 18 months.
That extension will be offered again starting this summer, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced last month.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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