The Columbia Journal
P.O. Box 2633 MPO,
Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada V6B 3W8
- Volume Eight, Number Eight: December 2003
Child Labour Back
BC children are being
put to work!
- Graeme Moore
by Christmas, BC children between the ages of 12 and 14,
with only one parent’s approval, will be able to work full-time, any
time, in any business within provincial jurisdiction. Provincial
jurisdiction means agriculture including hand harvesting of berry
crops, retail including street vendor and door-to-door sales and
service including food preparation and office cleaning. All that
an employer will need to put a child as young as 12 years old to work
is the written consent of one parent, even if the other parent
objects! Child employment law in BC is going from:
“A person must not employ a child under the age of 15 without the
director’s permission”, to,
“A person must not employ a child under 15 years of age unless the
person has obtained the written consent of the child’s parent or
Previously, a parent’s written consent was a necessary but not
sufficient condition to employ a child under the age of 15; now, it is
all that is needed, even if the other parent disapproves!
Gordon Campbell, Premier of BC, is ending about 70 years of government
control of the employment of children. No more will the Director
of Employment Standards:
applications for child employment permit to certify that the work and
the workplace are safe for a child and that the hours of work are not
too long for a child to perform.
that the child gets to and from the workplace without risk.
that school principals have determine the proposed employment does not
interferes with the child’s education.
BC government contends that children will be safer and better protected:
government asserts that it will penalize employers who employ children
without a parent’s consent. Parental consent, however, is not
only a parent’s written consent between them and a job.
the Director’s ensuring that the work, hours of work and workplace are
safe and suitable for children.
school authorities ensuring education comes first.
Parental consent does not protect children! We know from history
that parental consent did not keep children out of coal pits, out of
cotton mills. BC Employment Standards Branch has encountered parents
who consented for their children under 15, some as young as 12 years
old, to work:
machinery that they could not reach the kill switch,
power cutting tools like rotary saws, circular saws, table saws, band
dawn to dusk, and
take a 90 minute bus ride home, alone, at night
BC government promises to create regulations to control the employment
of children. These regulations, however, have yet to be made
public. When presenting the changes, the BC government announced
the type of regulations it planned to create:
In the general child employment regulation, this government has set out
specific rules that apply to children between these ages [12 to 14]. An
employer must ensure that the child does not work during school hours
on a school day, does not work more than four hours on a school day or
20 hours in a week when school is in session, and does not work more
than 35 hours in a week when school is not in session. Also, the child
is under direct, immediate supervision of an adult.
Elsewhere there was mention of a 7 hour day when school is not in
We know what will not be in the general child employment regulation
because the BC government defeated amendments that would have added the
hours of work to no more than 2 hours on a school day and no more than
8 hours on any other day.
work between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
work in an environment that could negatively affect a child's safety,
health or well-being.
It also should be noted that there was:
mention of prohibited workplaces or occupations.
prohibition against going door-to-door, selling goods on streets, using
power tools or operating motorized equipment.
requirement that tools be ‘kid-sized’.
consideration of how children will get to and from their
restriction of hours of work to daytime.
differentiation between children 12 and those 14.
Without appropriate government control of the employment of children,
children will be victims of workplace injuries and deaths. Some parents
will come to view their children as sources of income, as a source of
income undetectable by government agencies, therefore, will be all the
more induced to put them to work. Employment not education, for
those BC children, will become their primary activity.
Gordon Campbell needs to know that:
will not allow BC children to be put to work with only a parent’s okay!
control of the employment of children benefits children!
need to be protected by government from work and hours of work that are
unsuitable for children!
BC needs regulations that:
protect children from full-time employment!
protect children unsafe and unsuitable employment!
BC needs you to help get for its children the regulations controlling
the employment of children; regulations at least equal to what Federal
Department of Labor has for children under federal jurisdiction.
Without such regulatory control of the employment of children, BC will
become the most child worker friendly jurisdiction in North America.