RCC Q&A: Parliament considering supply chain public reporting legislation this Fall - Retail Council of Canada
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RCC Q&A: Parliament considering supply chain public reporting legislation this Fall

September 13, 2022

This Fall, Parliament will be considering Bill S-211, proposed legislation that would require retailers of a certain size to report publicly on the actions they are taking to prevent and reduce the risk of forced labour or child labour in their supply chains. Introduced as a Private Members Bill, the draft legislation now has the backing of the government. Below is a Q&A with Alison Baxter, Senior Director, Health & Wellness and Industry Relations at RCC, on the proposed legislation and how it could impact retailers.

Q: What would the proposed legislation mean for retailers?

If passed, Bill S-211 would require mid and large size retailers to issue a public annual report on the steps they have taken to prevent and reduce the risk that child labour or forced labour is used in any step of their supply chain. These reports would need to be posted on a prominent place on a company’s website and reports would also be available on a public government registry.

The Bill would provide for an enforcement regime to verify compliance, with penalties of up to $250,000 for not filing a report or knowingly providing false or misleading information. The Bill would also expand Canada’s existing ban on the importation of goods made in whole or in part with forced labour to include child labour.

Q: What are the next steps in the process?

The Bill has already passed the Senate and is now being considered by the House of Commons. RCC is anticipating that the Bill will be considered by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs and International Development Committee later this fall — likely in late October or November 2022. RCC will have an opportunity to make recommendations for amendments to the proposed legislation when it is considered by the Committee.

While Private Members Bills rarely become law, with the government’s support, it is possible that Bill S-211 will be passed next year.

Q: What is RCC advocating for?

RCC fully supports the intent of the Bill — eliminating forced and child labour. But it’s important that efforts to address this issue drive meaningful progress, are reasonable for retailers to implement, and recognize the complex and global nature of these issues.

RCC is advocating for amendments to ensure that the legislation can be reasonably implemented by retailers — such as clear requirements for reports, sufficient implementation timelines, a higher exemption threshold for small and medium businesses, education-based enforcement, and new tools and resources to support businesses efforts in this area.

The government had previously committed to introducing supply chain legislation and had been considering imposing specific due diligence requirements on Canadian businesses. In this context, RCC has generally supported the more measured approach proposed in Bill S-211.

How can I learn more?
More details on what the proposed legislation would mean for Canadian retailers and how RCC is advocating for members can be found in our Member Exclusive Briefing Note on RCC’s website.

RCC’s Responsible Sourcing Committee will be meeting on September 15, 2022 including presentations from government officials on the proposed legislation.

To learn more, or join RCC’s Responsible Sourcing Committee, please contact Jason McLinton, Vice President, Grocery Division & Regulatory Affairs, at jmclinton@retailcouncil.org or Alison Baxter, Senior Director, Health & Wellness and Industry Relations at RCC, abaxter@retailcouncil.org.

For questions or more information contact

Jason McLinton
Vice-President, Grocery Division and Regulatory Affairs
613- 656-7903

For questions or more information contact

Alison Baxter
Senior Director, Nutrition and Social Responsibility at RCC