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BC Labour Laws Compromise Youth

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Section: Canadian News Geography: West British Columbia Topics: labour

September 30, 2004

BC Labour Laws Compromise Youth

British Columbia children and teenagers have now completed their first summer working under the province's regressive child labour laws that were passed last fall. Under these new laws, young workers 12 and over can now work 20 hours during a regular school week. When school is not in session, or if they are attending one of the growing number of schools that have four-day school weeks, students can work up to 35 hours a week,.

The new laws require permission from just one guardian, and the working hours can be at any time of the day, including overnight "graveyard" shifts. As well, the new laws have gotten rid of workplace investigations (for aspects such as safety). Instead, young workers now need to file formal complaints about any problems within their employment – a system that obviously may often ignore serious workplace issues, as young workers may not feel empowered enough to report legitimate concerns.

British Columbia has recently made deep cuts to women's programs, and since a considerable number of these women in need are single mothers, the result could be that children need to work as much as possible in order for needs to be met. It is also hoped that pre-Olympic workforce demands – resulting in deaths and compromised safety in Athens and Sydney – do not become coupled with the new child labour laws and result in tragedy.

» Seven Oaks: Globalisation comes home to roost: Child labour in Campbell's B.C.

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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