04/28/2013 02:20 EDT | Updated 06/28/2013 05:12 EDT

Sweatshops Exist In Montreal, Says Local Not-For-Profit Director

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JAIPUR, INDIA - NOVEMBER 18: A young boy works in a textile factory November 18, 2009 in Jaipur, India. Young boys, mostly from rural area in Uttar Pradesh, were bought off for 5000 rupees for a year to work at the factory. They work 12 plus hours a day and receive average of 2300 rupee per month. (Photo by Kuni Takahashi/Getty Images)

The deadly garment factory building collapse in Bangladesh has prompted many Canadians to ask questions about what is being sacrificed in order to keep prices low for shoppers in North America.

At least 377 people are confirmed dead after the illegally constructed building collapsed in a Dhaka suburb, and the death toll is expected to rise.

Montreal is home to several retail outlets that promote ethical fashion choices.

“There is also the existence of sweatshops in Montreal. There are a lot of immigrants working in the textile industry at rates and at conditions that are not necessarily the most ideal conditions,” she says.

Located on St-Hubert Street, Boutique Éthik is a not-for-profit organization selling only clothing and accessories made under safe and fair working conditions.

“Every time that you buy a shirt that is five dollars, you should always ask questions,” says Suárez-Visbal.

She says there are so many people involved in the production of clothing, it's difficult for consumers to know what goes on behind the scenes.

Laure Waridel, a sociologist with the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, says Canadians should pressure the federal government to do more to help improve labour conditions.

“The problem with the current government is the condition of workers doesn't seem to be a priority,” she said.

Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs says Minister John Baird recently spoke to his Bangladesh counterpart, and Baird said Canada is willing to work with Bangladesh to improve working conditions.

“Canada remains concerned about dangerous working conditions in the global ready-made-garment sector,” the minister said in a statement.

“We stress the importance for all governments to take concrete measures to provide workers with safe and healthy working conditions.”

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