Today, First Call submitted recommendations to the Ministry of Labour and The Law Institute of B.C. calling for better government protection for children who are working.
First Call’s recommendations provide a framework for the B.C. government to develop employment standards consistent with Canada’s commitment to establish 16 as the age for formal employment. Canada made this promise when the Prime Minister ratified the International Labour Organization’s Convention 138 in 2016.
Data obtained through First Call’s Freedom of Information requests shows that every single year over the past ten years children under 14-years were injured on the job seriously enough for WorksafeBC to pay out tens of thousands of dollars in injury (disability) claims and health care claims.
Not all work is harmful to children. Appropriate light work of a casual nature can be beneficial to psychosocial development, and promote self-sufficiency and confidence. But in B.C., with few government protections, some employers are clearly hiring children for inappropriate and dangerous work.
First Call shares widely accepted international principles that call for special protections for children and youth related to employment.
- Childhood is a period of life which should be dedicated, not to work, but to education and development. “Child labour” by definition is never acceptable.
- Child labour means work that compromises children’s safety, that is harmful to physical or mental development, and that interferes with their education.
- Child labour often accompanies family and community poverty. It also perpetuates poverty by depriving the child of opportunities to pursue studies and to fully develop.
- Children and adolescents are generally more compliant, will accept lower pay, and are less aware of safety issues and their rights than adults.