Field preparation in Delta. Farmers depend on seasonal work to tend and harvest crops. (Black Press files)

Kids under 16 can keep working for now, B.C. labour minister says

Opposition questions impact on agricultural, co-op jobs

First in a series on changes coming to B.C. labour laws.

Kids under 16 can keep earning “pocket money” while the B.C. government works out regulations to restrict their paid work, Labour Minister Harry Bains says.

Bains said the minimum age for formal work is going up from 12 to 16, except for “light work” that isn’t hazardous, including chores and traditional work like delivering newspapers. He later clarified that there is more consultation needed before it is finalized.

“We will be devising regulations, and that will take some time,” Bains said. “In the meantime they will continue to work. Then we will be consulting to see if they are actually in dangerous occupations, and how do we give the employer some opportunity to get used to what the new regulations are.”

Farm operations and educational co-ops are concerned about new restrictions on youth work announced this week by Bains, as part of his update of the Labour Relations Code, says B.C. Liberal labour critic John Martin, MLA for Chilliwack.

“I’ve already got some emails from people involved in co-op education, youth 15 years old gaining a foothold in their employment career working in greenhouses and other parts of the agriculture sector,” Martin said. “They’re wondering if they’re going to continue that relationship between schools and employers in various parts of the province.”

Ken Peacock, chief economist at the Business Council of B.C., said in an interview he supports greater restrictions on work for young people. The council’s submission to the B.C. Law Institute’s three-year study of employment standards was in line with the changes in that area, he said.

“I’m hearing there are some challenges and concerns in the agricultural sector, but it’s not intended to limit children working in family businesses,” Peacock said.

The business group is expecting further changes to employment standards in the future, dealing with more sensitive areas such as hours of work, overtime and the status of contractors and part-time workers who don’t have employer-supported benefits.

READ MORE: NDP keeps secret ballot vote for union certifications

READ MORE: B.C. prepares to move on labour, employment rules

“One thing we are definitely concerned about is the cumulative impact of all these things. The employment standards, a few pieces of the labour code, business probably can absorb that,” Peacock said.

“But you’ve got changes on both those fronts in terms of labour legislation and the regulations, and then you’ve the employer health tax, the minimum wage going up last year, slated to go up again in June of this year, you’ve got Canada Pension Plan deductions increasing at the federal level. You start adding all these things up and you do wonder whether that’s going to have a dampening impact on job creation and employment, and whether people will opt for contracting arrangements rather than secure employment arrangements.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Comedy, chicken poop and dancing at Lytton Festival

This year’s festival will honour longtime supporter Shirley James

LETTER: Recreational angling has low-impact on Fraser salmon

Jason Tonelli writes about his displeasure at the call to close recreational fishing on the Fraser

Hope’s Wheeled Wild Women hit the road for cancer research

Group of friends ready for the 200-km bike trek that ends in Hope

PHOTOS: Paintings return to Kilby for fifth annual festival

The Plein Air Festival will be taking place at the historic site all weekend

Cougar spotted in Seabird Island

Residents are asked to report all sightings to conservation

Sts’ailes invites adults to become engaged in Halq’eméylem with new video series

‘Qw’oqwel te Qw’oqwel’ gives language learners an immersive way to learn Halq’eméylem

U16 B.C. fastpitch team named national champs

Girls went undefeated at national tournament in Calgary

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

Most Read