Poverty forces children under 13 years old to work eight to 10 hours a day in coffee and vegetable farming, reports World Vision Canada.
Photo Credit: CNW Group/World Vision Canada

Canadians urged to fight child labour

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Most Canadian likely consume products made by children in foreign countries and don’t realize it, says World Vision Canada. The charity commissioned a survey which found 54 per cent of Canadians don’t think they consume products that involve child exploitation.  Yet Canada commonly imports products like coffee, sugar, clothing, footwear, fruit, vegetables and electronics from countries where children work.

Long, hard work and no school

“These children are working from seven until five or six at night—long hours in the hot sun,” says Cheryl Hotchkiss, manager of World Vision’s No Child for Sale campaign who has just returned from Guatemala. “Because of poverty they’re working, because of poverty they’re probably not eating very well and the biggest concern is that they’re not going to school.

“The impact on their physical body of this hard labour, often exposure to pesticides in the course of that work and then the fact that they’re not going to school and not able to develop their mental and social capacities so they can have an opportunity to have a different life and different work as adults,” are among her many concerns.

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Canadians would change, says survey

Most Canadians (87 per cent) agree they could reduce child labour in other countries by changing their purchasing habits, according to the survey. And 60 per cent said they would stop buying a product if they found out that it was made by children.

World Vision Canada is working with companies and the government on this problem, but it wants Canadians to help by asking companies they patronize to provide information about what they do to avoid and prevent child labour. The charity also asks Canadians to sign a petition in support of their efforts and to, whenever they can, buy fair trade products.

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