January 16, 2022

The Queens County Citizen

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Allegations of forced labor | Ottawa Supermax Healthcare concludes deals with Canada

Allegations of forced labor |  Ottawa Supermax Healthcare concludes deals with Canada

(Ottawa) The Trudeau government is terminating outstanding contracts with Supermax Healthcare Canada to supply nitrile gloves because its Malaysian supplier is suspected of using forced labor to manufacture personal protective equipment.

Posted at 5:00 p.m.

Joel-Denise Belavens

Joel-Denise Belavens
Press

Press It is learned that the Ministry of Public Services and Supplies has not yet received the results of the audit which promised to clarify the allegations that Malaysia’s Supermax Corp is using forced labor. These audits are due to be submitted to him by the end of November.

As of September 30, Supermax Healthcare Canada, the Canadian division of Supermax Corp, had received the equivalent of $ 240 million in federal government contracts since the outbreak began.

Photo by Franకోois Roy, Law Press Archives

Supermax distribution center in Langueil

“The Government of Canada is terminating existing contracts with Supermax Healthcare Canada for the supply of nitrile gloves. No deliveries by Canada after November 2021 have been approved or paid for,” the email said. Press Stephanie Hamel, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Services and Procurement.

“In view of the seriousness of the allegations and the expected time before the final results of the audit become available, the Government of Canada has decided to mutually conclude two existing contracts for the supply of nitrile gloves and Supermax Healthcare Canada has agreed,” she added.

It is impossible to know the value of the two contracts canceled on Friday.

Supermax Healthcare Canada, which has a storefront in Longueil, has also won a total of $ 330 million in contracts from the Quebec government to purchase personal protective equipment during the health crisis. However, Quebec did not have an active contract with the company for several months.

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Allegations of forced labor

Last October, US Customs and Border Protection decided to seize disposable gloves made by Supermax Corp and its subsidiaries in all US port of entry after learning of forced labor allegations.

Forced labor is considered a modern form of slavery by the International Labor Organization, a specialized agency of the UN.

In Canada, despite the Trudeau government bringing such allegations to its attention in early January 2021, it decided to suspend the distribution of contracts in November, one month after the decision of American authorities.

At the time, the Department of Public Services and Supplies asked six suppliers sourcing gloves from Malaysia, including Supermax Healthcare Canada, to provide information demonstrating that they were compliant with their labor and human rights.

The department has decided to pursue agreements with Supermax Healthcare Canada after it’s interpretations of procedures, procedures, audit and investigation strategies and conform to international standards.

But the action of the US authorities forced Ottawa to be held accountable again. Supermax Corp has specifically agreed to hire an independent firm to investigate. A total of three audits are to be conducted. One of them is due to be handed over to the federal government in November. It was not done.

“Incompetence”

Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Huss has argued that the federal government has failed in its responsibilities in this regard.

Photo by Adrian Wilde, Canadian Press Archives

Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus

“It is a well-known fact here and elsewhere in the world that since the beginning of 2021, this company has been involved in coercion. It is not acceptable for the Government of Canada to close its eyes and sign agreements with companies that use human slavery. It is the incompetence of the minister, rather than intentional blindness. It is clear that there is a lack of attention. ”

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Alexandre Bouleris, deputy leader of the New Democratic Party, was similarly critical.

It is good that the contracts are being canceled. But how did such a mistake actually happen? Therefore, necessary steps should be taken to prevent this from happening again. We have international commitments. You have to respect them, ”he said.

Photo by Marco Campanozi, Archives the Press

Alexander Bouleris, Deputy Leader of the New Democratic Party

In a statement sent to Press, Supermax Healthcare Canada has confirmed the termination of contracts and indicated that the results of an ongoing independent audit of Supermax Corp’s Malaysian facilities will not be released until spring.

“These agreements are aimed at the US allegations and are strictly related to the gloves of Malaysian factories operated by supplier Supermax Corp. These facilities are currently under independent audit and are not owned by Supermax Healthcare Canada. ⁇

We would like to point out that the Federal Government has not terminated its business relationship with Supermax Healthcare Canada for other personal protective equipment, especially surgical masks produced at its Longue facilities. “Supermax Healthcare Canada can still participate in Canadian government tenders for other products.”

Supermax Healthcare Canada owns 67% of the parent company in Malaysia and 33% of its Executive Vice President, Sylvain Bergeron, a resident of Lock-Brom, Quebec.