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Child Labour

Childhood is for school and play, not jobs

“We have no time for study and education, no time to play and rest, we are exposed to unsafe working conditions and we are not protected.” 
Children’s Forum Against the Most Intolerable Forms of Child Labour, Bangkok 1997

Read a most eloquent poem on child labour from the point of view of a child. Orignally written in Punjabi, it has been loosely translated into English.

The words “child labour” conjure up images of a child in a far away land toiling in a factory to earn some money for their family. Hard to imagine in British Columbia.

The legislation

On October 8, 2003, the B.C. Liberals passed Bill 37 that gives British Columbia the weakest labour standards for working children in Canada.

The changes to the Employment Standards Act remove the scant protections that existed for children in the workplace, leaving children as young as 12 to fend for themselves in the adult world of work. 


  • Children 12-15 can work up to 35 hours per week during non-school periods.
  • Children no longer need government or school consent. They need only permission from one parent.
  • For the first 500 hours children can be paid $6.00/hour.
  • Children 12-15 can work four hours on a school day and seven hours on a non-school day.
  • Children 12-15 can work 20 hours per week on school days.
  • General Employment of Young People Factsheet

More information about the legislation and its impact


Here are some teaching resources to help teachers connect the topic of child labour to lessons in the school and classroom.

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  • TeachBC
  • BCTF Online Museum
  • BCTF Advantage