New Democrats Call For Re-Implentation Of The Employment Standards Act
VICTORIA – The B.C. Liberals are failing to protect children in the workplace, the New Democrats said this week in the legislature.
New Democrat labour critic Raj Chouhan introduced a motion in the legislature on Monday calling on the B.C. Liberals to re-implement protections for young workers that the Campbell government eliminated in 2003.
Chouhan noted that in 2003, the B.C. Liberals amended the Employment Standards Act, eliminating the requirement for employers to obtain a permit to employ children between the ages of 12 and 14. There has been a ten-fold increase in accepted WorkSafe B.C. injury claims among children under 14 years of age over a four-year period between 2004 and 2008.
Chouhan urged the B.C. Liberals, “to repeal Bill 37 and bring back the same protections that were there before 2003, to address the issue of child poverty eliminate the $6-per-hour training wage and increase the hourly minimum wage for all workers to $10 an hour. The government must comply with the convention set out by United Nations and the International Labour Organization.”
A recent report from First Call, the B.C. Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition, found that 58.3 per cent of 12 to 14 year olds with jobs reported their employer did not receive written approval from their parents.
New Democrat Attorney General critic Leonard Krog supported the motion saying, “I'm delighted to rise this morning to support the motion of the member for Burnaby-Edmonds, an individual who has spent a lifetime advocating on behalf of workers and those who needed protection in our workplaces.”
New Democrat MLA Maurine Karagianis , critic for Children and Family Development said, “Here is the reality: this government made regulatory changes. They took actions here within the province of British Columbia that now have allowed children as young as 12 to work with the permission of only one parent. This is providing significantly less protection for child workers than any other jurisdiction in Canada — in fact, in many places across the world.”
B.C. Liberal MLA Donna Barnett along with four other Liberal MLAs spoke against the motion. The B.C. Liberals refused to accept any of the recommendations and defended the government’s policy to drastically reduce the protections for young workers.
Krog slammed the B.C. Liberals for refusing to support the motion saying, “We in this chamber have a duty to tell the children who are out in the workforce in this province that they matter. The way we demonstrate that in a tangible way is to ensure that they work in a safe environment that is properly regulated.”
“It would seem to me that the government is really avoiding looking at the real issue here with a lot of diversionary tactics,” noted Karagianis.
Mable Elmore and Katrine Conroy were among the New Democrat MLAs that spoke in favour of the motion.
B.C. Liberals Douglas Horne, Pat Pimm, and Robert Howard joined Barnett in refusing to acknowledge the recommendations made in the First Call Report, and spoke against the motion.
Under the Campbell government, B.C. has had the worst rate of full-time job losses, the second-worst performing economy, and highest level of child poverty in the country.