On February 5, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) to End Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking introduced the Modern Slavery Act in the Senate. Peace River – Westlock M.P. Arnold Viersen is the co-chair of APPG.
“Modern day slavery and human trafficking exist in every country of the world including Canada,” Viersen says in a Feb. 5 media release. “With over 25 million people around the world trapped in modern day slavery, we have a responsibility to tackle the slavery in our communities and in our supply chains.”
This isn’t just a national problem.
Last July, the Lesser Slave Lake Indian Regional Council (LSLIRC) held a human trafficking awareness workshop in Swan River First Nation, west of Slave Lake. Richard Froese covered the event for the Lakeside Leader in an article entitled “Regional Council tackles human trafficking via Swan River workshop,” dated Aug. 14, 2019.
“Human trafficking is not only in the cities, it’s starting to hit home in rural areas,” says Sandra Willier, LSLIRC opioid awareness coordinator.
At the time, 57 per cent of The Action Coalition on Human Trafficking (ACT) Alberta clients were from Canada, with 22 per cent of them from Indigenous communities, said Jessica Brandon from ACT.
“Modern slavery is deeply embedded in Canadian economic supply chains where it is out of sight from companies and consumers,” says the APPG media release. “If you have purchased shrimp, shopped for clothes, consumed chocolate, or bought products with lithium batteries then you may have inadvertently supported supply chains tainted with slavery.”
“The Modern Slavery Act…requires companies to report on the measures they are taking to prevent and reduce forced labour or child labour in their supply chains,” says the release. “The Act will also allow for a prohibition on the importation of products that are produced wholly or in part by forced labour or child labour. The adoption of this legislation will help to implement Canada’s international commitment to slave-free supply chains and encourage companies to ensure their supply chains are transparent and free of goods produced by slavery if they wish to do business in Canada.”
“About 40 million people are involved in modern slavery,” says an Oct. 2018 government report. “This is more than twice the number involved in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. In 2016, one in 10 children were engaged in some form of child labour.”
Founded in 2018, APPG includes members from the Liberal, Conservative, and NPD and the Independent Senators Group, with support from the University of British Columbia.