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.

Just Posted

Man caught driving drunk with three young children in car

Multiple calls to RCMP for driver swerving back and forth on highway through Kootenay National Park

Jointly-hosted tea at museum

Strawberry Social 2 p.m. June 15th at museum grounds

The pen is mightier than the board

Local group of kids plans to put out regular newsletter as fundraising initiative

Celebrate Pride in the Park at 2nd annual event

Weekend of festivities June 14-15th

Ambushed with honour

Mike Gray receives Rotary’s highest honour in surprise presentation at Horsethief pub anniversary

VIDEO: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon

MPs hear retired B.C. nurse’s petition to change compensation for fatal medical errors

Teri McGrath wants provinces to implement no-fault system for medical errors

Horgan says he’ll still defend B.C. coast after second Trans Mountain approval

Meanwhile, one B.C. First Nation has announced plans for a legal challenge

Demonstrators on either side of Trans Mountain debate clash in Vancouver

Crowd heard from member of Indigenous-led coalition that hopes to buy 51% of expansion project

Police investigating fatal collision near Grave Lake

Grave Lake is located approximately halfway between Sparwood and Elkford

Grieving B.C. mom hopes Facebook message leads to new investigation into son’s Surrey homicide

Criminal Justice Branch didn’t lay charges, concluding no substantial likelihood of murder or manslaughter conviction

B.C.’s measles vaccination program gains traction in May

More than 15,000 doses of the MMR vaccine has been administered across the province

B.C. farmers concerned Agricultural Land Reserve changes choking their livelihood

Dozens voice concerns at special meeting hosted on Vancouver Island

UPDATE: Two-year-old involved in Chilliwack pool drowning has died

Toddler was reported to not be breathing as air ambulance called out Thursday afternoon

Most Read