Today, First Call sent an open letter to the Honourable Harry Bains, Minister of Labour, calling on him to table legislation at the next sitting of B.C.’s Legislative Assembly aimed at protecting children and youth from employment-related injury and exploitation.
In British Columbia, children as young as 12 years old can legally work at virtually any job and task. We’re not talking about babysitting or paper routes, 12-year-olds can work in most industries, the most common being food services and accommodation, but many are working in construction, manufacturing and resource-based jobs. We know where they are working, not because government is monitoring but because this is where they are getting injured.
When the Employment Standards Act was changed in 2003, B.C. became the only province that does not place legal restrictions on the occupations, tasks, or time of day a child can work. Every single year over the past decade, children under 15 were injured on the job seriously enough for WorkSafeBC to pay out over five million dollars in injury claims. In some cases, children have sustained life-altering injuries. Over that same period over 2,000 children under the age of 15 claimed work-related health-care costs.
We urge the Minister to modernize BC’s employment standards to protect children and youth.
The letter is signed by a number of organizations working provincially and federally on behalf of childrens’ rights.
BC Association for Child Development and Intervention
BC Employment Standards Coalition
BC Federation of Labour
BC Government and Service Employees’ Union
BC Retired Teacher’s Association
BC Teachers’ Federation
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives- BC Office
Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children
Canadian Federation of University Women – BC Council
Coalition of Child Care Advocates BC
Community Legal Assistance Society
Developmental Disabilities Association
Family Services of Greater Vancouver
Health Sciences Association
Public Health Association of BC
The Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver
Victoria Child Abuse and Counselling Centre
Victoria Family Court & Youth Justice Committee
West Coast Legal Education Action Fund
Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre
YWCA Metro Vancouver
If your organization would like to join this call to Minister Bains, please download and sign this letter template, scan and send to email@example.com. We will continue to add names to this list of endorsers.
To read First Call’s research visit our Child Labour in BC campaign page.