Who are you wearing? The high price of cheap clothes

Poll finds Canadians care more about price than possible hidden costs

MISSISSAUGA, ON, April 22, 2015 /CNW/ - Overpaying for clothes is more stressful to Canadians (76%) than the possibility that they may be buying clothes made by children in sweatshops (59%), reveals an Ipsos Reid poll commissioned by World Vision. But Canada's ongoing connection to child slavery in the apparel industry remains a major concern for the aid agency. In countries like Bangladesh, Vietnam and Cambodia children continue to work in dirty, dangerous and degrading conditions, including in the garment, footwear and textile industries.


  • The Canadian population rose by only 5% from 2009 to 2013 while clothing imports shot up by 23%, mainly from countries where child labour remains a harsh reality.

  • In 2013 Canada imported more than:
    • US$1 billion of clothing from Bangladesh.
    • US$619 million of clothing from Cambodia.
    • US$507 million of clothing from Vietnam.

According to World Vision, children are often lured or forced to work in illegal sweatshops because they need to help their parents pay for basic needs such as food, shelter, and ironically, clothing.

Canadians can take action against child labour at both ends of a product's supply chain:

  • In Canada, consumers should ask retailers to provide information on what they are doing to ensure their products are not made by children.  Canadians can also shop ethically by choosing products that are certified to be free of child labour by organizations such as Fairtrade.

  • In countries where child labour exists, Canadians can protect a child from exploitation through monthly sponsorship. Through World Vision, Canadians support approx. 21,000 children in Bangladesh and13,000 in Cambodia, keeping them in school and out of factories.

"Whether it' sewing shirts in a sweatshop, or picking cotton for hours in the hot sun, problems with child labour are known to exist in the apparel industry. Unfortunately, Canadians don't have enough information available to make an informed choice – it's almost impossible to know if we are part of the problem. Canadian companies need to do a better job of checking their supply chains and showing consumers that child labour is not a hidden cost," says Cheryl Hotchkiss, manager of World Vision's No Child for Sale campaign.

"Canadian demand for cheap clothing, along with company efforts to reduce expenses, is putting a downward pressure on labour costs. This leads to more sourcing from countries where children may be exploited for their cheaper labour," says Cheryl Hotchkiss, manager of World Vision's No Child for Sale campaign.

Photos of child labour
Fact sheet about cotton industry
10 Steps Companies Can Take 

The Ipsos Reid survey was conducted between March 4 and 9, 2015 on behalf of World Vision Canada. The results are based on a sample of n=1,007 Canadian adults in the general population and are accurate to within +/-3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. Visit our News Centre worldvision.ca

SOURCE World Vision Canada

For further information: Brett Tarver: 647-825-2712, Brett_Tarver@worldvision.ca; Britt Hamilton: 416-419-1321, britt_hamilton@worldvision.ca


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