Chilliwack MLA John Martin, the B.C. Liberal labour critic, debates the NDP government’s changes to the Employment Standards Act, May 27, 2019. (Hansard TV)

B.C. Greens back NDP restrictions on kids under 16 working

Employment changes spark bitter battle with B.C. Liberals

Kids under 16 will still be able to work in their parents’ store, referee soccer games or help out on the farm as the B.C. government develops new rules restricting them to “light work,” Labour Minister Harry Bains says.

The NDP and B.C. Greens used their bare majority in the legislature to reject a B.C. Liberal bid to keep the minimum working age at 12, which Bains called an international disgrace for the province among international labour organizations.

Bains said the list of jobs that children aged 13 and 14 are allowed to do is being developed, and cabinet will order it via regulations. He was peppered with examples of children sorting clothes in a sporting goods store, picking berries, and babysitting.

“For goodness sake, we train kids as young as 11 to babysit,” B.C. Liberal MLA Todd Stone said. “We say to that 11-year-old, that 12-year-old, ‘Go and take a course. Here’s the course that provides you with the life skills’.”

Delta South B.C. Liberal Ian Paton sparked an angry response when he recounted his youthful job experience on farms. Paton pleaded with Bains to “stand behind this amendment with the South Asian community that know it’s important to keep their kids out of the bad end of town, keep their kids out of gangs and whatnot, to give them the opportunity to work and get a job even at age 12, 13, 14 and 15.”

RELATED: B.C. NDP using ‘sledgehammer’ on contract employers

RELATED: Kids under 16 can keep working for now, minister says

B.C. Green MLA Adam Olsen called the comments and the B.C. Liberal proposal “disgusting,” and Nanaimo-North Cowichan NDP MLA Doug Routley was ejected from the chamber. Paton later withdrew his comments.

“We’re talking about how we need to get this country back to the way it is, make it great again,” Olsen said. “The fact of the matter is that this province has been called a pariah by those around the world for moving the age of work so low.”

B.C. Liberal MLA John Martin questioned the definition of “hazardous work,” which is “likely to be harmful to the health, safety or morals of a person under 16 years of age.”

“What morals?” Martin asked. “Whose morals?”

Bains said it refers to areas involving liquor and adult entertainment, and he is following the conventions of the International Labour Organization.

Asked repeatedly to define “light work” suitable for children under 16, Bains said: “For example, a clerk in an office or a retail store; a delivery person for small goods and merchandise for a retail store, delivering flyers, newspapers, handbills; certain duties in the restaurant food service industry – a host, hostess, cashier, dishwasher, busing tables, a server or waiter providing customer service, assembling food orders and cleaning.”

Bains said the full list of permitted work will be developed in consultation with industries, and cabinet will approve the regulations before they take effect.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vehicle roll over closes highway for over three hours

The vehicle’s occupants were taken to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops via helicopter

Trans Mountain to contribute funds for infrastructure upgrades

The company signed an agreement with the District committing $3.1 million

Seniors group recommends website to members with tech issues

The Wells Gray Country Seniors Society (WGCSS) has run a program called “Cyber Seniors” since 2015.

B.C. prepares back-to-school plan for students in COVID-19

Districts will be refining preparations up to Sept. 8

New cannabis shop does well in first weeks

Clearwater’s first cannabis shop, the Interior Cannabis Company, is doing well in its first few weeks of operation.

Canucks ride momentum into NHL playoff series against defending Stanley Cup champs

PREVIEW: Vancouver opens against St. Louis on Wednesday

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

One dead as fish boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

Landlord takes front door, windows after single B.C. mom late with rent

Maple Ridge mom gets help from community generosity and government

42 more people test positive for COVID-19 in B.C.

The province has recorded no new deaths in recent days

Joe Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

Harris and Biden plan to deliver remarks Wednesday in Wilmington

Lawsuit launched after Florida child handcuffed, booked and briefly jailed

Suit alleges “deliberate indifference” to what should have been handled as a behavioural issue

Russia approves vaccine, Putin hopes to begin mass production

Critic calls decision to proceed without thorough testing ‘dangerous and grossly immoral’

Most Read