—asking me additional questions? Okay. Thanks for that.
I would agree with the authors that transparency alone is not enough, that you do need to motivate companies to fully investigate their supply chains all the way through. For example, in our current engagement with the jewellery industry, we've been looking at whether or not they know where the gold and the diamonds they use for their jewellery is coming from. It's shocking to us how few of them can actually trace their gold and their diamonds to the mines where they originated. If they don't know where the gold and the diamonds are coming from, they have no way of knowing whether they've been responsibly sourced.
What often happens with these long and complex supply chains is that companies will look basically to their direct suppliers for assurances, and what we're seeing is that too often they will simply accept assurances that, “Oh, of course, what we're selling you is responsibly sourced. There's no child labour. There's no forced labour.” The company stops there and doesn't really demand credible evidence from their direct supplier that they have also gone to their subsuppliers to ensure that human rights abuses are addressed.
That's one reason that we're interested in legislation that doesn't just address the transparency aspect, but also puts forward the steps that companies need to take to assess the human rights risk throughout every stage of their supply chain, and then address it when it occurs. That would be a more robust piece of legislation.
If I can just add one more thing on tackling child labour, I agree with Aidan absolutely that education is key. The International Labour Organization has been tracking global child labour rates for over 20 years. Aidan spoke specifically about some of the figures on child slavery, but on child labour globally, the numbers have been improving. There were an estimated 245 million children engaged in child labour in the year 2000, and the most recent estimates are that it has dropped to 152 million, a drop of almost 100 million.
In its assessment, the ILO identifies four key reasons for that, or key components of an effective child labour strategy. One is exactly what Aidan was speaking about in terms of ensuring access to free and quality education. As enrolment goes up, child labour goes down.
A second program that's been very effective is what they call “cash transfer programs,” whereby a government will identify the poorest families and provide them with monthly stipends. These stipends will help them meet their basic needs and reduce the need for children to go out into the workforce. It also is often an incentive to keep children in school. We've seen very positive results in a number of countries.
The third criterion the ILO says is important is strong child labour laws, with good enforcement, and the last is good regulation of business in a country.
I would reinforce what Aidan said about also looking not just at supply chains and legislation related to businesses, but also where Canada is placing its foreign aid, and making sure that it's investing in the kinds of programs that are most effective.