moved for leave to introduce Bill C-603, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (minimum age of employment).
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce this bill today, which builds on the incredible work of young members in the trade union movement who have launched a national campaign to raise awareness about Canada's inadequate minimum age laws, and to advocate for Canada to ratify International Labour Organisation Convention 138.
My bill would bring federal labour legislation into compliance with ILO C138 by ensuring that the age of employment shall not be less than the age of completion of compulsory schooling, which in Canada is age 16.
This threshold is set to protect the health and well-being of young people and to ensure that they have the proper means to develop as individuals and citizens through sufficient education. The only exception states that light work of persons between 13 to 15 years of age may be permitted, if it is not likely to be harmful to their health or development and not such as to prejudice their attendance at school or their participation in vocational orientation or training programs.
Today all of the existing minimum age laws under Canada's federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions contravene C138. In some cases, as with the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, official minimum age laws have weakened in recent years, dropping to as low as 12 years of age. At the same time, young worker injury rates are on the climb, and still too few young workers are aware of their rights at work.
I hope that passage of my bill will be the first step toward ensuring that the federal government will officially sign on to ILO C138 and that Canada will become a leader in the fight to defeat child labour around the world instead of remaining passively complicit to, if not active proponents of, child labour here at home.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)