CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers: A Debate on Contracting Manufacturing

Business Studies
2 lessons
To consider the ethical implications of using inexpensive labour in developing countries
Students debate the advantages and disadvantages of contracting manufacturing work to developing countries.

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring

As a class, discuss what measures are in place to protect Canadian workers. In particular, discuss minimum wage legislation and workplace safety. Ask students to consider the following:

  • If a company finds minimum wage too expensive for its manufacturing, what other options does it have?
  • In what ways, if any, are working life and/or working conditions different in countries other than Canada?
  • Do Canadian companies have any obligations to consumers, the community, or to the workforce? If so, what are those obligations?
  • Why do clothing prices differ so much?

Outline the Opportunity

Divide the class into debate groups. Present the following statements:

a. Contracting inexpensive labour in developing countries benefits those workers as well as Canadian consumers.

b. Contracting inexpensive labour in developing countries is unfair to those workers as well as to Canadian workers.

Assign a position to groups. Distribute the download sheet A Debate on Contracting Manufacturing and review it as a class so that students understand how to structure their debates.

Direct students to the topic Sewing Seeds: Clothing Workers Fight for Better Conditions on the CBC Digital Archives website and have them view the clip "Favouring foreign contracts." Students can take notes on the download sheet as they research. Provide a class period for students to engage in the debate.

Assessment Tip: Students can evaluate their own or their peers' performance using a checklist such as the following. Students can mark each category from 5 (best) to 1 (worst) and add up the marks for a total.

  • Clear opening statement of position
  • Three good reasons to support the position
  • Two facts for each reason
  • Brief conclusion to summarize position
  • Appropriate and effective speaking style
  • Appropriate body language
  • Well-planned response to opponent
  • Thorough knowledge of the subject
  • Organized and prepared for debate

Revisit and Reflect

Debrief as a class on the debate, ensuring students have an opportunity to discuss issues that might not have been discussed by all during the formal debate. Moderate their discussion to be sure that students stay on topic and that their statements remain impersonal.


Though the most recent clip in this series is dated 1993, contracting out to workers in developing countries (often called outsourcing) continues to be a hotly debated issue. Outsourcing has grown to include other jobs, even those in the white-collar sector. New and emerging technologies have played a significant role in how companies outsource work. Students can examine recent articles and discuss how technology has changed outsourcing of work. Has technology increased or decreased this phenomenon? Why?


Download PDF

Related Content

Fighting Words: Bill 101

On March 31, 2005, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld Quebec's language law but ruled that the...

A Woman's Place: Programming for the Modern H...

What do women want? In 1945, CBC broadcasters were asking that question -- at least in terms o...

Fair Game: Pioneering Canadian Women in Sport...

Throughout history, "ladies" were discouraged from participating in team sports because it was...

On Every Front: Canadian Women in the Second ...

Canadian women were not allowed to fight during the Second World War but they did just about e...

1994: Baseball strike halts best-ever Expos t...

The 1994 Montreal Expos are the best team in baseball. But a strike ruins everything.

1962: Voice of Women protests nuclear testing

Canadian women concerned about nuclear weapons press the minister of Foreign Affairs about U.S...