AFL Sounds Alarm on Expansion of Child Labour

Jobs Minister floats suggestion to increase scope of jobs that 12-year-olds can be hired into

Edmonton – Alberta’s largest worker organization is asking the province to take the expansion of child labour off the table.

Today is the deadline for submissions to the review of the Employment Standards Code launched in March by Jobs Minister Thomas Lukaszuk. The first question that the government asks in its discussion guide for the review has to do with expanding the variety of jobs that 12-14 year olds are permitted to do.

In their written submission to the review, the Alberta Federation of Labour expressed strong opposition to any such expansion.

“Albertans don’t want 12-year-olds working in restaurant kitchens. They don’t want 13-year-olds working as janitors and handling hazardous cleaning materials,” Alberta Federation of Labour president McGowan said. “The fact that this is the first item on Mr. Lukaszuk’s Employment Standards agenda shows that he did not hear Albertans the last time his PC government expanded child labour. Albertans rejected it then, and they reject it now.”

McGowan added that this “is a very odd way for Lukaszuk to launch a bid for the PC leadership.”

“Instead of distancing himself from the bad policy that has characterized the government over the past few years, the Minister seems to be determined to make even more bad policy before he resigns to pursue his leadership aspirations. I guess we’ll have to start referring to him as the ‘child labour’ candidate.”

The AFL recommendations on Employment Standards are contained in a detailed analysis of provincial work standards. The Executive Summary is here and the full report is here. The recommendations fall in eight categories:

1) End special permits issued by the Director of Employment Standards. There should be one set of rules for every employer, not exceptions for friends and insiders.

2) End the discrimination against workers with disabilities, farm workers, and domestic workers, and include them in basic Employment Standards protections.

3) Get tough on employers who abuse Temporary Foreign Workers, and make sure employers aren’t using the TFW Program to drive down wages and working conditions and displace Albertans from jobs

4) Enforce the rules and get tough on employers that try to cheat the system. Recommendations here are tougher fines, more prosecutions, and on-the-spot administrative penalties (ticketing) for employers who break the rules.

5) Fairness for people who work in the restaurant, retail, and hospitality industries by ending illegal deductions, having a clear law on tips, and ending the two-tier minimum wage.

6) Ending the confusion around stat pay and overtime – clean up the language in the legislation and make our laws consistent with the rest of the country.

7) End – don’t expand – child labour in Alberta.

8) Recognize we are all juggling work and family by bringing our parental and maternity leave standards up to the standards in the rest of Canada and expanding the number of leaves employees can take without losing job protection.



Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.289.6528 (cell)
or via e-mail

Executive Summary:

AFL Submission: