Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Alberta child labour laws unenforced

The Alberta Federation of Labour has released a four-page report on the lack of effective enforcement of Alberta's child labour laws.

“Tens of thousands of adolescent Albertans, aged 12 to 14, are employed and 21 per cent of them work in illegal jobs,” says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, which represents 140,000 workers. “The story for child workers, aged 9 to 11, is even worse, with 78 per cent doing work prohibited by the government.”

“There is no incentive for employers to ensure children and adolescents are working in safe and legal situations, or that they are being paid appropriately. Violations of employment standards laws simply result in a cease-and-desist order, or an order to pay wages owed.”

This report is based on research I conducted over the past few years, including survey research funded by the AFL.

-- Bob Barnetson

1 comment:

  1. I see child labour as a huge issue in southern Alberta. Hundreds of Mennonite children who are permanent residents of the Taber/Vauxhall region are not in school but working for local "farmers". These farmers if further investigated are actually companies, with "Inc" after their name. Kids as young as 12 are grading potatoes in September and October during school hours (if their family allows them to go past grade 6). Companies such as McCains and Lays have contracts with these farmers for the potatoes. Elemetary school age kids have been on farms in spring in bins cutting seed potatoes during school hours. Parents use the children's income to support the family, so will not complain about violations. Many parents are illiterate and do not know labour laws.