New guide helps Canadians shop without selling out their values

This is a question a growing number of Canadian consumers will ask themselves over the holiday shopping season as awareness of sweatshop abuses continues to grow among shoppers in North America.

A recent Leger Marketing poll found that a strong majority of Canadian shoppers (63%) wanted to know more about where the products they buy come from and that even more of us (66%) would avoid those products if we thought they had been made in a sweatshop.

However being an "ethical shopper" is not easy. Information about where clothing and other goods are manufactured is hard to find. Even the "Made in Canada" label is no guarantee that a product has been made under humane conditions.

Rather than waiting for improved labelling regulations from government or better disclosure practices from retailers and importers, the Canadian Labour Congress has come up with a guide for consumers just in time for the year's busiest shopping season. "Ethical Shopping" is a quick guide for people who want to know more about how to get the information they need to avoid supporting factories that disregard the rights of their workers.

"Every day, millions of people – men, women and children – work under sweatshop conditions with low pay, long hours, no benefits and little protection from abuse or injury. Choosing to purchase items that are not made under these conditions is perhaps one of the best gifts of solidarity Canadians can offer to sweatshop workers in Canada and in other countries," says Canadian Labour Congress President Ken Georgetti.

According to Georgetti, Canadians are consistent supporters of workers' rights. To illustrate the point, he cites a poll prepared for the CBC before the Summit of the Americas about extending free trade in 2001, which showed that 85% of Canadians wanted basic labour standards to be included in free trade agreements.

"Canadians value the rights of working people and want to see their values reflected in the trade agreements we sign and the standards we set for goods that are made, exported, imported, bought and sold in our communities," he said.

Ethical Shopping is available from the Canadian Labour Congress at

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