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Ottawa’s No Sweat policy passes

May 31, 2007

On May 23rd, the City of Ottawa unanimously adopted a No Sweat purchasing policy. Ottawa joins Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto as Canada’s fourth major city to adopt a No Sweat purchasing policy.

Ottawa’s No Sweat policy – part of a broader Ethical Purchasing Policy that includes fair trade coffee and tea – requires its suppliers to uphold International Labour Organization (ILO) standards in the production of apparel and agricultural products. It also requires them to publicly disclose manufacturing locations, and accept third party verification should the city require it. Failure to abide by the policy can result in termination of city contracts.

In order to implement the policy, the city will require suppliers to monitor their production facilities to ensure ongoing compliance with the policy. Preference will be given to suppliers that use the services of third-party verifiers to perform regular monitoring activities and assessments.

If the city receives a complaint about a supplier, they will consult with a Stakeholder Committee made up of business, labour and fair trade representatives. They may then require the supplier to hire an independent third-party to investigate the complaint. The supplier would be responsible for the cost of the investigation unless it confirms that there has been no violation, in which case the city would assume the costs.

As part of the policy, Ottawa has also slated the next year and a half to investigate better options for implementation, including collaboration with other jurisdictions.

Ottawa’s No Sweat purchasing policy was lobbied for by the Ottawa No Sweat coalition, a coalition of individuals and representatives from faith, labour, student, and non-governmental organizations. It will be applied to approximately $1.7 million in annual apparel purchases.

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