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B.C.’s minimum working age going from 12 to 16 on Friday

Some recreation, farm, administrative, retail jobs allowed at 14
Pruning fruit trees is one of the jobs where temporary foreign workers may be used. B.C. moves to a minimum working age of 16 as of Oct. 15, with exeptions for “light work” on farms such as hand harvesting. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Changes to B.C. labour laws to limit employment to age 16 and older take effect Oct. 15, more than two years after Labour Minister Harry Bains introduced legislation that limits younger people to only “light work” such as stocking shelves, dishwashing and farm and yard work.

Bains says the province is moving ahead after extensive consultation with young people, parents and employers.

The new rules also permit children to babysit, deliver newspapers part-time or perform in recorded and live entertainment. Children aged 12 and older can continue to be employed in a business or farm owned by an immediate family member, as long as the work meets safety criteria set out on the regulation.

“Prior to these changes, B.C. was the only province in Canada that allowed the employment of children as young as 12,” Bains said. “In some cases, this involved hazardous situations or environments, such as construction sites or heavy-industry settings. As a result, young workers are injured on the job every year, with WorkSafeBC data reporting more than $1.1 million paid in job-related disability claims for workers 14 or younger between 2007 and 2016.”

Youth aged 14 and 15 will be able to do jobs defined as “light work,” with permission from a parent or guardian. In some cases, children aged 14 and 15 may be permitted to do work outside the definition of light work with a permit from the Ministry of Labour’s Employment Standards Branch.

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Occupations that are now prescribed as light work appropriate for youth 14 and 15 include:

* cashier

* computer programmer

* golf caddy

* lifeguard or lifeguard assistant

* messenger or courier

* peer counsellor

* performing artist

* recreation or community program attendant

* referee or umpire

* salesperson, other than door-to-door

* server of food or drink, other than alcohol

* sports or recreational coach or instructor

* summer or day camp leader

* tutor or instructor

* visual artist or graphic designer

* writer, editor or similar

Occupations or situations that are now generally considered as unsafe for youth under 16 include:

* repairing, maintaining or operating heavy machinery

* places where a minor is not permitted to enter

* sites of construction, heavy manufacturing, heavy industrial work

* sites designed to retain an oxygen-deficient or toxic atmosphere

* walk-in freezers or coolers, other than to place or retrieve an item

* handling substances that minors cannot legally purchase, use or distribute

* lifting, carrying or moving heavy items or animals

* using, handling or applying hazardous substances like pesticides


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