For the first time, Saskatchewan has established an absolute minimum working age.
Labour law changes announced Wednesday mean no one under the age of 14 can work in any sector. People aged 14 and 15 who want to work must now meet four minimum requirements:
- Have consent from a parent or guardian.
- Obtain a certificate focusing on occupational health and safety, and employment standards.
- Cannot work after 10 p.m. before a school day, or the morning of a school day.
- Cannot work more than 16 hours during a school week.
"Establishing an absolute minimum age of employment in Saskatchewan will ensure that young people's education is not compromised, while at the same time allowing them to gain employment experience," Labour Minister Rob Norris said in a release.
The province says the general minimum age of employment in Saskatchewan will now be 16, with the exceptions noted.
The changes follow a five-month consultation process, which started in January.
The province changed the Labour Standards Act in January to allow 15-year-olds to work in five sectors previously unavailable to them — hotels, restaurants, educational institutions, hospitals and nursing homes.
Young workers fired
The minimum working age in those sectors had been 16, but was challenged after several workers at a Regina Dairy Queen restaurant were fired last September after it was learned they were 15.
At that time, Premier Brad Wall said having different age rules for young workers at gas stations and hamburger restaurants didn't make sense.
According to an official with the Ministry of Advanced Education, Employment and Labour, between 6,000 and 8,000 people aged 14 and 15 work in Saskatchewan — roughly one-third of that population group.
Those workers will need to meet the new requirements, which could come into effect as early as Aug. 7. However, the ministry told CBC News the health and safety certificates and employment certificates will not be required until the fall.
The new law means Saskatchewan now has the oldest absolute minimum working age of any province in Western Canada.
According to research provided by Saskatchewan's Ministry of Advanced Education, Employment and Labour, B.C., Alberta and Manitoba allow people as young as 12 to work. All other provinces and territories restrict employment to people 14 years or older.
The changes announced Wednesday will not affect restrictions on the employment of young people in areas such as construction sites, mines, casinos and in the sale, handling or serving of alcohol.