MPs Demand Government Ban on Pension Funds Investing in Chinese Companies Tied to Human Rights Violations – Benefits Canada


Canadian Pension Plans Implicated in China’s Human Rights Abuses: Report

Canadian Pension Funds Investing in Human Rights Abuses: Report

Sensationalized Expose of Canadian Pension Plans Linked to China’s Human Rights Violations

Investigations have revealed that Canadian pension plans are being named as passive beneficiaries of China’s crimes against humanity. A report has outlined that, despite many of these funds divesting from direct investments in companies associated with Uyghur forced labor, they remain invested passively in stock indexes such as the Morgan Stanley Capital International’s Index, the China Index, and the Emerging Markets Index.

Investments Range from 2 – 10% of Assets Under Management

Institutional investors’ exposure to investments in China ranged from approximately two to ten percent of their total assets under management, according to the report. Despite the investments reflecting a small segment of the total portfolio, these companies cannot be exonerated of their involvement in human rights violations.

Current Measures do not Passively Protect Human Rights

Currently, there are not any enforceable measures in place to prevent Canadian pension plans from investing in companies complicit in human rights violations or any implementation of transparency and accountability with regards to their portfolio investments. As Sam Goodman, director of policy and advocacy at Hong Kong watch and co-founder and co-chair of New Diplomacy UK notes, a restricted entities list is needed and could be used as a ‘road map of companies to avoid.’

Proposed Changes to Combat Human Rights Abuses

The special committee has recommended that the federal government further study how to compile and maintain an official list of companies that are not fit for investment. It has also primised to collaborate with the United States and other allies to develop common approaches to the human rights implications of pension plan investments, including developing a list of prohibited investments due to human rights abuses.

Finally, legislative changes are proposed to be part of the federal budget to eliminate any trace of forced labor in Canadian supply chains to further reinforce the prohibition on imports of goods produced by forced labor.


This latest report is a timely reminder of the potential risks to human rights that results from pension plan investments. It further highlights the measures being explored in order to prospectively ensure the ethical investment of public pension funds in the future.

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