Conservative think tank says child labour rules "seem rather unnecessary" (Audio)

This is supposed to be a youth employment strategy?

The Frontier Centre for Public Policy, a right-wing think tank with charitable status, is calling on governments to rethink Canada's child labour rules in an effort to get more young Canadians into the workforce.

While labour laws are "supposed to protect workers from exploitation," the Frontier Centre points out in a new podcast that "they are not always helping teenagers who are entering the workforce for the first time."

In fact, "some of these rules seem rather unnecessary."

Which rules exactly? The Frontier Centre lists a few to reconsider:

  • "Children under 12 are almost never allowed to work."
  • "In Alberta, 12- to 14-year olds are forbidden from working more than two hours on a school day."
  • "Minimum wage laws also make it more difficult for young people with no experience to find their first job."

As FCPP policy analyst Brianna Heinrichs explained in an accompanying Regina Leader-Post opinion piece, "age rules and a minimum wage can stifle young potential workers seeking either independence or some pocket change."

"Hampering young Canadians from having a job is robbing them of opportunity," Heinrichs added. "People should not coddle children until they are of age and then act disgusted when young adults express a sense of entitlement or cannot find a job due to lack of experience."

Responding in a letter to the Editor, the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour's Kent Peterson called the conservative think tank's proposals for repealing age rules and a minimum wage "one of the most out-of-touch pieces of literature I have ever read."

"The article called for 12-year olds to work four hour shifts a day – and even suggested that would be good for the 12-year-olds' school grades. It was absolutely laughable," Peterson wrote.

"Labour laws are a good thing. They protect us, they protect our children, and they ensure corporations – and their cheerleaders such as the Frontier Centre – cannot exploit and abuse workers just to make a few more pennies of cheap profit."

Here's the podcast from the think tank:

Photo: crimfants. Used under a Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0 licence.

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