Executive summary: Industry engagement on ethical procurement—What we heard report
Through the National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking (national strategy), Canada has taken a whole-of-government approach to addressing human trafficking. The national strategy includes a commitment for Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) to address human trafficking, forced labor, and child labour in government procurement supply chains. Against this backdrop, PSPC conducted 2 hybrid (in-person and online) awareness and engagement sessions with industry. The sessions included a guest speaker presentation, a presentation from PSPC, and a panel discussion featuring subject matter experts representing government, industry, academia, and civil society.
As highlighted by the panel, the key challenges with tackling human trafficking, forced labour, and child labour in Canadian industry are:
- awareness and information gaps
- limited availability of data
- operational difficulties, including tracking and tracing supply chains
- limited human and financial resources to dedicate to the issues
- limited enforcement capacity
There was a general receptivity to PSPC’s ethical procurement activities introduced to date. Positive comments about the Government of Canada's action largely focused on the planned development of a human rights due diligence framework, and collaborations and partnerships. Constructive feedback focused on the absence of perceived enforcement resulting in little incentive for industry to comply.
Lessons learned for engaging industry on these topics moving forward include:
- involving subject matter experts with industry experience and representation from civil society was effective for a more rounded discussion on the issues
- sector-specific engagement with accompanying tailored information may potentially drive more interest in these issues in industry versus a generalist approach
In addressing these issues in federal supply chains, panelists and attendees recommended that PSPC:
- avoid a one-size-fits-all approach
- provide clarity and simplicity to industry around expectations and enforcement
- demonstrate flexibility when issues are found and support industry in remediation
- support industry with practical ‘how-to’ guides (e.g., toolkits, industry-specific guidelines)
- provide industry with more information on resources available that can help companies investigate their supply chains
- include the voices of people with lived experience of human trafficking, forced labour, and child labour in future engagement activities
Importance of industry awareness and education
Overall, the awareness and engagement sessions demonstrated the importance of continuing efforts to raise Canadian industry awareness and education on human trafficking, forced labour, and child labour in supply chains.
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Protecting human rights in federal supply chains
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