Protecting human rights in federal supply chains
The Government of Canada is committed to leveraging its spending power to positively influence ethical business practices, both at home and abroad.
What we are doing
As the government’s central purchaser, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is committed to maintaining the highest ethical standards for government procurement.
PSPC has taken steps to safeguard federal procurement supply chains from forced labour, child labour and human trafficking, and ensure that it does business with ethical suppliers.
National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking
After the National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking was launched in 2019, PSPC created a dedicated team to address forced labour and human trafficking in federal procurement supply chains. This team strives to:
- raise awareness of ethical procurement issues among suppliers
- work with suppliers to identify vulnerabilities within their operations and supply chains and look for ways to address them
- outline requirements for human and labour rights for suppliers
- work with suppliers to develop and implement tools to ensure compliance in their supply chains
- examine long-term approaches to address human trafficking and labour exploitation in federal procurement supply chains
To accomplish this, PSPC works closely and collaboratively with various departments, including Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). PSPC continues to support ESDC with its work on legislation to eradicate forced labour from Canadian supply chains.
Risk assessment of federal procurement supply chains
In May 2021, a risk analysis of PSPC’s supply chains was completed. The risk analysis determined which goods were at the highest risk of exposure to human trafficking, forced labour and child labour.
The analysis is an important step to understanding the vulnerabilities of supply chains. The results are key to developing an evidence-based approach to address human trafficking in federal procurement supply chains.
PSPC developed an ethical procurement action plan that includes the following recommendations from the risk assessment:
- prepare tools and awareness materials for suppliers
- assess requirements for an ethical procurement policy and human rights due diligence strategy
- conduct engagement sessions for suppliers of high-risk goods to seek information on the source of raw materials used in their manufacturing processes and raise awareness of related issues
Code of Conduct for Procurement
In August 2021, PSPC revised its Code of Conduct for Procurement to include human and labour rights expectations for federal suppliers. The updated code is included in all contracts issued by PSPC and requires that suppliers not be engaged in any form of human and labour rights abuses.
Anti-forced labour contract clauses
As of November 2021, PSPC requires all new contracts for goods to include anti-forced labour clauses.
Under the new anti-forced labour clauses, contractors are obligated to not deliver or sell goods to Canada that have been produced wholly or in part by forced labour. These new clauses allow PSPC to terminate a contract where there is credible information that this obligation has not been met. They will also protect PSPC from financial liability if goods are prohibited from entering Canada under the Customs Tariff Act.
PSPC actively monitors compliance using a mix of legal registries, subscription-based and open-source information repositories.
PSPC continues to improve and expand its tools and resources to help bolster Canada’s supply chain transparency and traceability efforts and to support the enforcement of the anti-forced labour contract clauses.
Ethical procurement of apparel
In September 2018, PSPC launched the Policy on the Ethical Procurement of Apparel. The policy requires federal suppliers to self-certify that they, and their direct Canadian and foreign suppliers, comply with human and labour rights standards. Among these rights are:
- freedom from child labour, forced labour, discrimination and abuse
- access to fair wages and safe working conditions
In September 2018, Canada launched the Principles to Guide Government Action to Combat Human Trafficking in Global Supply Chains, along with the governments of:
- New Zealand
- the United Kingdom
- the United States
This framework outlines guiding principles for governments taking action against human trafficking in domestic and international supply chains.
- Executive summary: Industry engagement on ethical procurement—What we heard report
- Executive summary: Risk analysis of human trafficking, forced labour, and child labour in Public Services and Procurement Canada’s procurement supply chains
- National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking
- Policy on the Ethical Procurement of Apparel
- Code of Conduct for Procurement
- Customs Tariff Act
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