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)

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

Protesters stand in front of a truck carrying logs to the WFP Ladysmith log sort. (Cole Schisler photo)
Protesters block entrance to Western Forest Products in Ladysmith

Blockade cleared by Ladysmith RCMP around noon, December 2

A truck arrives with a load of logs at Western Forest Products’ mill in Ladysmith. More work will be coming to the Ladysmith sawmill in February, says WFP. (Black Press file photo)
More work at Ladysmith mill in new year, says Western Forest Products

Company says Ladysmith operation to see second shift in February

After a brief closure, Roberts Street Pizza will reopen with an updated COVID-19 safety plan. (Cole Schisler photo)
Roberts Street Pizza reopens December 3

The store closed for a few days to update their COVID-19 safety plan

Ben Maartman, pictured in his ‘farm office’ has been elected as Area H director. (Ben Maartman photo)
Ben Maartman declared Director of CVRD Area H

Maartman will be sworn in on December 8

Beautiful morning with the sun peaking through, as viewed from Thetis Island. (Photo by Kelly Bannister)
November characterized by a record high, no snow and plenty of rain in Chemainus region

Temperature almost hits the 20 degree Celsius mark on Nov. 4

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy are inviting audiences into their home for ‘A Celtic Family Christmas’. (Submitted)
Natalie MacMaster coming to you through Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

Here’s your chance to enjoy the famed fiddler in an online show with her husband Donnell Leahy.

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

Most Read