12-year-olds may perform light duties like harvest fruits or vegetables
By Diego Flammini
An amendment to a piece of Quebec legislation allows young kids to be members of the workforce on farms in the province.
A May 2023 amendment to Bill 19 says that children as young as 12-years-old can work on a farm with fewer than 10 employees where they can perform light manual labour to harvest fruit or vegetables, care for animals or work the soil.
Quebec’s general ag organization, L’Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) wanted this amendment to ensure the province’s farms could employ the necessary staff during the summer, CBC reported.
But some stakeholders are concerned.
“It scares us, because the (agriculture industry) is an environment that is super dangerous,” Vincent Chevarie, a spokesperson for Au bas de l'échelle, which defends non-unionized workers, told CBC.
Bill 19, which Labour Minister Jean Boulet introduced in March, passed on June 1. It regulates the minimum age for employment in all workplaces at 14-years-old, with some exceptions like tutoring or delivering newspapers.
Until the bill passed, Quebec didn’t have a legal age requirement for work.
For workplaces allowing children under 14-years-old, the employer must have written consent from the parents using forms from CNESST – Quebec’s labour regulator.
The consent form must identify the main duties, maximum hours of work per week and the child’s availability.
In addition, the bill says that kids 16 and younger who are subject to compulsory school attendance can work 10 hours between Monday and Friday, and 17 hours per full week.
Here are the other legal minimum working ages across Canada.
- B.C. – 16
- Alberta – 14
- Saskatchewan - 16
- Manitoba 13
- Ontario – 14
- New Brunswick – 16
- Nova Scotia – 16
- Prince Edward Island – 16
- Newfoundland and Labrador – 16
- Nunavut – 17
- Northwest Territories – No minimum age
- Yukon – No minimum age
Most provinces and territories have regulations in place for employing people younger than the posted minimum age.