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Forced and child labour, a primer for TSX and TSXV issuers

There are 27 million victims of forced labour today and 1 in 10 of the world's children are in child labour. Many of these people are exploited in business supply chains.

To help end these terrible practices, Canada's new Fighting Against Forced Labour and Child Labour in Supply Chains Act (the Act) obliges many companies, including most TSX and TSXV issuers, to report on the steps they are taking to prevent forced and child labour in their supply chains. The Act specifically requires that companies report on the forced and child labour training provided to their employees.

In addition to facilitating compliance with the Act and being the right thing to do, training your staff to spot the warning signs of child and forced labour makes good business sense. Association with human rights abuses can damage brands and impact the bottom line.

Education: the first line of defence

With research showing that employees increasingly want to work for companies with a strong social and environmental conscience, child and forced labour training can help develop, motivate and retain talent.

All employees need to be taught how to spot the warning signs of child and forced labour. Indicators include suppliers' managers intimidating workers and under or late payment of workers.

It is particularly important that procurement and legal staff are taught how to negotiate and manage relationships with suppliers in such a way as to reduce the risk of workers being exploited. This should include agreeing realistic timeframes for the delivery of goods and services, to minimise the risk that workers are forced to work excessive hours.

Issuers should ensure that their employee and supplier codes of conduct include anti-forced and child labour provisions and that they have a whistleblowing mechanism in place.

Where to get forced and child labour training?

Issuers may choose to develop training in-house or use an external provider. In either case, it is important that human rights specialists are involved in the creation of the course.

High quality free forced and child labour courses are available. These free courses are often licenced for company wide use and can be downloaded and used on company's Learning Management Systems (LMS).

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