Source: Wikipedia

Young teens in Saskatchewan may soon be able to land their first legal job sooner. 

The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce has proposed allowing 13-year-olds to work as part of its policy recommendations issued in a news release on June 13.

The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce released its policy platform for the 2024 provincial election, Fueling Momentum 2024. The platform is intended to provide Saskatchewan political parties with information on the priorities of businesses in the province.

“This is a pivotal time for the province. We are positioned to become a critically important partner in addressing global food insecurity and energy transition. Over the coming four years, the Saskatchewan government needs to continue to capitalize on the province’s vast potential to fuel growth and new investment,” said Prabha Ramaswamy, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber told True North that the platform was developed through consultation with industry leaders and its members.

“Ultimately, the Chamber believes that the decision for a youth to enter the workforce resides with the youth and their family/guardian,” said the Chamber in an email.

Currently, the minimum age of employment in Saskatchewan is 16 years old. However, 14 and 15-year-old workers can work after completing the Young Workers Readiness Certificate Course, with parental consent.

Even after completing the course, 14 and 15-year-olds cannot work after 10:00 pm on nights before a school day, before classes begin on a school day, or more than 16 hours in a school week.

Minimum age requirement rules in Saskatchewan do not apply to family businesses employing only immediate family, self-employed individuals, traditional farming operations, babysitters, and newspaper carriers.

Workers under 18 years old cannot work in underground mining, in an open pit at a mine, as a radiation worker, in an asbestos process, in a silica process, or in any activity that requires the use of an atmosphere-supplying respirator.

The restrictions for workers under 16 years old are stricter, barring them from working in various trades and chemical industries. 

“Currently youth are permitted to enter the workforce, with substantial restrictions in the Saskatchewan Employment Act on when and where youth are allowed to work. The Chamber supports these standards,” The Chamber told True North.

Saskatchewan’s 2024 election will be held on or before Oct. 28, 2024.

Saskatchewan NDP MLA Aleana Young said that her party does not support lowering the working age to 13 years old.

“There are 58,000 Saskatchewan people looking for jobs — today,” she said, alluding to whether there truly is a labour shortage.

Kent Peterson, the President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees’ Saskatchewan division, joined the voice of opposition.

“The @SaskChamber wants to Make Child Labour Great Again so employers can take advantage of young people. They know it’s morally wrong, which is why they’ve stonewalled media requests; they just don’t care,” he said.

While the age requirement change to 13 has garnered much media attention, the platform calls for an array of other changes.

Other proposals include lowering the provincial sales tax from 6% to 5%, reducing corporate income tax by 10%, and increasing the province’s red tape reduction savings target from $20 million to $40 million annually.