Quebec to introduce new law regulating child labour

New rules could be challenge for sectors relying on younger workers, says CPQ

Quebec to introduce new law regulating child labour

Quebec is planning to introduce new legislation limiting the practice of child labour in the province.

Labour Minister Jean Boulet will introduce the legislation, which is partly based on a report released by the Comité consultatif du travail et de la main-d'œuvre (committee of unions and employer associations or CCTM), the Montreal Gazette reported.

It recommends that the general age of admission to employment should be 14.

In terms of working hours, employees aged between 14 and 16 would not be allowed to work for more than 17 hours per week, including the weekends, during the school year, the Gazette reported. They will also be limited to 10 hours of work between Monday and Friday.

For children aged 13 and under, they will only be allowed to work as babysitters, fruit pickers, for family businesses, and recreational activities, CBC News reported.

Boulet said the bill will be refined before it is ready for the National Assembly, according to the CBC. The minister aims to introduce the bill by February and have it adopted by June just in time for the 2023 summer break.

Labour shortage challenges

Currently, Quebec is one of the few provinces in Canada where there is no minimum age of requirement, according to the Montreal Gazette.

The rules only require parental permission for employees aged 14 and below so they can participate in the workforce. For employees aged 16 and younger and without a diploma, they are not allowed to work during school hours.

The Quebec Council of Employers (CPQ) said they acknowledge the need for teenagers to finish school in a comment relayed to CBC News.

"It's a very sensitive issue because we have to take into account the series of preoccupations about, first of all, the desire of teenagers to be able to work," Denis Hamel, the vice-president of workforce development policy at QPC, told CBC News.

"We cannot hide the fact that it will be a challenge for certain sectors that are used to [hiring] young teenagers… in some regions where the job vacancies and labour shortage are extremely, extremely high."

Health and safety considerations

The announcement of the bill was welcomed by various groups, including Quebec's opposition.

"At the end of the day, it is about the health and safety of minors and the educational success of children. This is a high priority and we cannot procrastinate on this issue for long," said Liberal education critic Marwah Rizqy, as quoted by CBC News.

The bill comes at a time when more younger workers are entering Quebec's workforce amid a talent crunch.

With more younger employees coming in, the number of work-related accidents for employees younger than 16 also jumped by 36% in 2021, while the number of dropouts increased, according to the Gazette.

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