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Quebec bill seeks to set minimum working age at 14

Quebec Labour Minister Jean Boulet tabled a bill on Tuesday, aimed at limiting the presence of children in the workforce.

“In order to be eligible to work, you will have to be at least 14 years old,” Boulet said during a press conference in Quebec City.

Unlike other provinces, Quebec has no minimum working age.

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The proposed legislation is based on a flagship recommendation by the Comité consultatif du travail et de la main-d’oeuvre (CCTM) — a committee made up of leading employer’s associations, union leaders and the Labour Ministry.

Last summer Boulet tasked the committee

Under Bill 19, kids aged 11, 12 or 13 years old will not be allowed to work, with a few exceptions such as delivering newspapers, babysitting and being an assistant monitor.

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Boulet said there would also be limits on the amount of time kids can work.

During the school year, employees between the ages of 14 and 16 will be capped at 17 hours a week including weekends. From Monday to Friday they can work a maximum of 1o hours.

If adopted into law, the limit on hours worked would come into effect on Sept. 1 but wouldn’t apply during holidays or spring break.

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While some raised concerns about limits as the province deals with a labour shortage, Boulet said the impact would be marginal.

He also stressed that solutions to the labour shortage don’t rely on youngsters being in the workforce.

“They have to go to school, they have to keep studying in order to be trained, in order to answer the demands of our labour market,” he said.

Boulet promised last June to review the laws governing working conditions for children after a reported increase in child labour across the province — and in the number of kids getting hurt on the job.

Citing the province’s workplace safety board (CNESST), Boulet said Tuesday that the number of workplace injuries rose from 10 to 64 from 2017 to 2021 for kids aged 14 and under — an increase of 540 per cent.

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For all kids aged 16 and under, the number increased from 278 to 447 during the same time period.

Boulet said the risks that could affect the health or safety of workers aged 16 and under need to be identified, analyzed and taken into account.

With Bill 19, the CNESST would be able to grant financial assistance to support prevention initiatives.

— with files from The Canadian Press

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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