Canada: Teenagers being hired by businesses to tackle labour shortage

Businesses in Canada are hiring young teenagers to tackle labour shortage. And teens are keen to work to earn something for their pocket money.

Quebec province of Canada has no minimum age requirement to work. Parental authorisation lets children under 14 seek employment. Also, there is no limit on number of hours worked provided work is not during school hours or at night for those who are 18 years old.

“After the pandemic, we found ourselves with major hiring problems,” said business owner Marie-Eve Guertin, who had to turn to employees under 15 this year for the first time in almost a decade of operating the restaurant. She was quoted by AFP.

“For full-time jobs, it’s very difficult. I haven’t received any resumes,” Guertin said, so she turned to teenagers to keep her business afloat.

“You want to grow a business, you don’t want to restrict it,” she said, wanting to avoid reducing opening hours as many other restaurants have done.

“I wanted a part-time job, work hours here and there, to earn some pocket money,” said Sofia-Rose Adams, a 13-year-old who works in Guertin’s cafe.

Guertin has other teenaged girls working in her cafe. Seven of the eight employees of the small business are under 18 years old.

Half of Quebecers aged 15 to 19 have jobs, as per statistics quoted by AFP.

“I started working at 14,” said Philippe Marcil, now 17 and an employee of a men’s clothing store in a Montreal suburb.

“I understood from a young age that it was important to gain experience in the labor market, so I wanted to experiment with that,” said the young man, who previously worked for two years as a supervisor at a fast food chain.

Charles Fleury, a sociologist and industrial relations professor at Laval University in Quebec City, said child labor “has always been somewhat present in Quebec, especially if we compare to European countries.” 

Teenagers readily taking up jobs before finishing school has begun to stir concerns. Quebec Minister of Labor Jean Boulet recently commented that he did not find it “normal” for 11-year-old children to be working and suggested that Quebec was considering legislation to better regulate the work of most youth.

(With inputs from agencies)

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