Bill S-211 Overview

In June of 2021, the human rights monitoring group Hong Kong Watch released a report on investments made by Canadian pension fund into Chinese companies. The companies, in turn, are complicit in human rights abuses.

Bill S-211 Overview

Take for example, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., Ltd. Hikvision manufactures surveillance cameras, has helped construct surveillance infrastructure for Xinjiang internment camps, and has a $45-million stake from the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI). On 4 February 2022, former and current parliamentarians raised their concerns in a letter to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland and demanded for a Modern Slavery Act.

The response came from the Senate in the form of Bill S-211, An Act to enact the Fighting Against Forced Labour and Child Labour in Supply Chains Act and to amend the Customs Tariff (Act). The Bill was passed in the House of Commons on 3 May 2023 by 271 yeas to 57 nays. The Bill received Royal Assent on May 11 and will come into force on 1 January 2024, although there have been speculations that the enforcement of some or all requirements may be delayed.

The Impacts of the Bill on your Company

Essentially, this bill is a supply-chain transparency law and it requires private-sector entities to release publicly available annual reports on how they identify, address, and prevent forced, prison and child labour in their supply chain. A private-sector entity is defined as:

  • Listed on a stock exchange in Canada;
  • Has a place of business in Canada, does business in Canada or has assets in Canada and that, based on its consolidated financial statements, meets at least two of the following conditions for at least one of its two most recent financial years:
    • Has at least $20 million in assets,
    • Has generated at least $40 million in revenue, and
    • Employs an average of at least 250 employees; or
  • Prescribed by regulations. (entité)


As for the report itself, beginning in 2024, the entity must submit an annual report before May 31 to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Additionally, the report must be publicly available and published on the entity’s website. The report must include, in respect of the government institution:

  • Its structure, activities and supply chains;
  • Its policies and due diligence processes in relation to forced labour and child labour;
  • The parts of its activities and supply chains that carry a risk of forced labour or child labour being used and the steps it has taken to assess and manage that risk;
  • Any measures taken to remediate any forced labour or child labour;
  • Any measures taken to remediate the loss of income to the most vulnerable families that results from any measure taken to eliminate the use of forced labour or child labour in its activities and supply chains;
  • The training provided to employees on forced labour and child labour; and
  • How the government institution assesses its effectiveness in ensuring that forced labour and child labour are not being used in its activities and supply chains.


Moreover, the Bill’s amendments to the Customs Tariff are also impactful to private-sector entities. Bill S-211 defines and includes “child labour” and offers a new definition of “forced labour” to the Customs Tariff. Not to mention, the Customs Tariff was weakly enforced by the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) prior to the introduction of Bill S-211. With the media attention from the Canadian pension fund scandal, it is likely that there will be more public and policy focus to prioritize the enforcement of the import ban.

How to Prepare Your Company

The expanded scope of the Customs Tariff will impact businesses that import goods or use imported goods, so businesses should review supply chains, especially as new reports emerge about goods being produced by forced labour closer to home.  Importantly, businesses will have 90 days to report that imported goods are prohibited by the import ban in their customs declaration.

Other ways to prepare your business before Bill S-211 comes into force are to:

  • Review supplier and business partner relationships;
  • Conduct a risk assessment of the supply chain;
  • Review and implement up-to-date policies and best practices related to forces or child labour and remediation; and
  • Implement training and education programs on forced and child labour for employees.

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