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Does B.C. have a child labour problem?
Does B.C. have a child labour problem?
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Does B.C. have a child labour problem? 

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What is the right age to join the work force?

Different provinces all have different ages set for young people to join the work force, with many of them floating around the 16-year range. It’s a tough call to make definitively, as it realistically could vary from person to person.

The rules regarding working age in British Columbia, though, are as follows:

12: (Supervision of a person aged 19 or older at all times while working; Maximum 4 hours on a school day; Maximum 7 hours on a non-school day; Maximum 20 hours in a week that has five school days; Maximum 35 hours in any other week; Written permission of parents is needed.)

15: Unrestricted

The staggeringly low 12 years of age which permits youth to work at most jobs has advocates saying that enough is enough, and that it’s time to raise the age to a much more reasonable 16.

For those who decide to join the workforce at 12, there are very few restrictions in place. 12 year olds can work any time outside of school hours, and there is no legal peramiters to which industry they work in, or which tasks they can do.

In an interview with the CBC, Helesia Luke, a communications and development coordinator of First Call B.C. said “We’re seeing kids working in construction, they’re working in manufacturing and they’re working in the trades. We know this because we know that they’re getting hurt there.”

Statistics Canada does not track the number of workers under the age of 15, so it’s impossible to say exactly how many youths are in the workforce. The best indication First Call B.C. has at the moment is through accident claim data.

Over the last ten years, WorkSafeBC has paid out over $5 million in disability claims to minors under 14 years old in the workforce. All the while, 2000 more children under 14 were approved for health-care claims related to being injured while at work.

“We’ve heard from a young man who, when he was 12, was stripping autos in a scrap yard and spilled battery acid all over himself,” said one youth advocate to the CBC.

“He has a lifelong scar from that experience. That’s too high a price to pay when you’re 12.”

For a complete list of the laws surrounding age and the workforce, click here.

The youth advocacy group is fighting for changes to come sooner rather than later, asking the province to raise the minimum age of formal employment to 16, like Ontario and Alberta.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

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