Employment Standards

Employment of children & youth in BC

First Call has been advocating for better employment standards for children and youth in BC for over 15 years.

In 2003, the BC government lowered the work start age to 12 and removed the requirement for employers to obtain permits to hire children and youth who were under 15.

This change identified children, aged 12-15, as a cheap pool of labour available for virtually any work site. For example, BC became the only jurisdiction in North America that allowed children to work on construction sites. And since a permit was no longer needed, there was no way to know how many children were employed, where and for what tasks.

Year after year WorkSafeBC data showed that too many children – 12 to 14-yr-olds – were getting injured working in construction, manufacturing, trade and service jobs.

Between 2007 and 2017 alone more than 780 WorkSafeBC claims were accepted for those under the age of 15. These claims have totaled millions in lifetime disability payments.

Finally, between 2019 and 2023 BC’s Ministry of Labour enacted new laws and regulations aimed at providing better protections for children and youth who are working, and rules related to hazardous work for older teenagers.

While we welcome these recent changes, First Call will be monitoring the data annually to ensure regulatory changes are reducing the injury rate for children and youth.

If you have questions or would like to share information with us on this topic, please email us at info@firstcallbc.org

Archived Reports and Submissions

Presentation: Employment Standards for Children & Youth in British Columbia – A History | July 2023

Report: WorkSafeBC Claim counts for workers aged 15 and under, by sector from 2010-2020 | July 2020

Open Letter: Harry Bains, Minister of Labour | February 2019

Government Submission: BC Child and Youth Employment Standards Policy Recommendations | August 2018

Research Report: Child Labour is No Accident: The Experience of BC’s Working Children | May 2013

Research Report: What’s Happening to Our Children? A Look at Child Work-Related Injury Claims in BC Over the Past 10 Years | October 2009