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Ontario says no more sweatshops: report

A Bangladeshi firefighter stands amid the debris on May 3, 2013, after the eight-storey building collapsed in Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka, on April 24, 2013. AFP/Getty Images/Munir uz Zaman

Queen’s Park wants to ensure that clothing and other items worn by civil servants is not made in sweatshops.

The Toronto Star reports that the Ontario government will be introducing an ethical sourcing policy for companies that bid on those contracts.

In the United States, a similar bill was passed in Maine. The state now requires winning bidders to contribute to a fund used to investigate workers’ rights.

Across the country, individual Canadians are increasingly reaching for fair-trade and ethically-sourced clothing and other products.

According to a Statistics Canada study released in 2011, fair trade coffee, sweatshop-free garments, lead-free toys, environmentally-friendly cleaning agents and organic and local foods are increasingly popular.

Canadians are making decisions based on ethical considerations, the study found, and that number is growing every year.

The study showed of 27 per cent of Canadian consumers surveyed are steering clear of some products and gravitating to others based on ethical concerns. Ethical consumption has increased among those 25 and older by 20 per cent since 2003.

Major Canadian companies are also following suit after tragedies in Bangladesh raised concerns about garment-worker’s safety in third-world countries.  Joe Fresh, under Loblaw, has signed onto a safety pact.

Accord on Fire and Building Safety is a five-year, legally binding factory safety contract aimed at improving worker safety in the Bangladesh garment industry.

Benetton, trendy Swedish fashion chain H&M, C&A of the Netherlands, British retailers Tesco and Primark, and Spain’s Inditex, owner of Zara, have also signed.