Workplace accidents in Quebec | The number of participating children jumps

Accidents at work jumped 36% among children under 16 in 2021, according to the Committee for Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST), which is responsible for enforcing laws in Quebec. The center specifies that 203 children had accidents at work last year, compared to 149 the year before. The youngest was 12 years old.

Posted at 7:15pm

Michel Arsenault
special cooperation

“Given the massive entry of young people into the job market, this doesn’t surprise me at all,” says Marie LaBerge, associate professor at the University of Montreal’s School of Rehabilitation. “You may have noticed, like me, very young workers in stores. The epidemic has caused a labor shortage.”

Since the emergence of COVID-19, companies have been attracting workers, especially in fast food. Owner Tim Hortons who prefers to keep his name quiet because he is not authorized to speak in the media by the brand sums up the situation: “Before, we took the ladies. Today, we no longer have a choice. In his franchise, we are hiring from the age of 13.”

There is no minimum age in Quebec

In Quebec, contrary to popular belief, there is no minimum age to work after school or on weekends. However, children under 14 years of age must obtain written permission from a parent. The Labor Standards Act It further clarifies that an employer cannot require children to do work that is likely to harm their health.

This, of course, does not stop them… from harming themselves. Especially since they are often asked to do more dangerous things, including handling heavy loads.

We make them do it [aux enfants] The tasks that no one wants to do.

Marie LaBerge, Associate Professor in the School of Rehabilitation at the University of Montreal

No wonder, then, that the number one cause of injury among those under 16 years of age is falling equipment, tools or machines. Among the “types of accidents” burns and “stress” ranked second and third, respectively.

Working at a young age can have serious consequences, especially for those who do odd jobs and are therefore always in an educational situation. As CNESST reminds us, “The weeks following employment are those in which workers of all ages are most vulnerable to infection.”

Work accidents that are well compensated and accrued by the National Social Sciences Board in 2021 will only be the tip of the iceberg. Researchers and lawyers find that many young people are reluctant to file a complaint with the National Center for Science and Technology, and they are not always aware of its existence.

It’s hard to know how many children under 16 work during the school year or in the summer. In 2016-2017, even before the pandemic and labor shortages, a high school youth health survey showed that more than half were employed.

The latest statistics from CNESTT show that child labor is widespread throughout Quebec, in both urban and rural areas. Apparently, three areas appear to be bad students: Morrissey, Center du Quebec, Chaudere Appalachian, and Capitale Nationale with 27, 25, and 21 affected children, respectively. Montreal and its inner suburbs (Laval and Longueuil) are slightly better, with 23.

Borders elsewhere in Canada

Quebec is the only Canadian province that does not have a minimum age for child labor. Many counties also limit the number of hours a child can work each week. In Manitoba, where the minimum age is 13, it is set at 20. And in Alberta, where the minimum age is also 13, the maximum is 31.

The National Center for Economic and Social Sciences (CNESST) announced its data on April 28, when the Senate adopted a bill on combating forced labor and child labor in supply chains. For his senator, Julie Mayville Dechen, the situation is “paradoxical.” In 2016, the Federal Parliament ratified Convention No. 138 of the International Labor Organization, which states that the minimum age for employment will be 16 years. But Quebec has not set a minimum age since the first René Levesque government abolished it.

“We are far from being exemplary,” the senator said. Quebec should review its own labor standards. Not all child labor is unacceptable, but it needs to be better regulated. When 12-year-olds get injured on the job, it’s worrying and worrying. »

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