Alberta advantage?

It has been an exciting six weeks for children in the province of Alberta. On June 3rd the bulk of restrictions preventing 12 and 13 year olds from entering the labour force (within the food service industry) were removed, and yesterday the province signed on for national day care funding, on the condition that for-profit care not be excluded. How convenient. Now baby can enroll in a high-priced day-care and big sister can help pay for it. These are the two latest examples of ideology run amuk in Alberta. By many accounts the adjustment to labour standards occurred with little or no prodding from the food service industry, and little or no public consultation. That the government would fight for the for-profit version of day-care is no surprise, despite studies suggesting not-for-profit care is superior.

Why does Employment Minister Mike Cardinal think age limits should be eased? “There are some areas where some parents are not in a financial situation where they can afford to completely support children without the youth going to work. I think that option should be there.” “Work is healthy, it doesn’t hurt.” (5 July, Edmonton Journal A6). Education advocates, those who work with the poor, and those who work with refugees have all expressed concern that working can hurt persons as young as twelve and thirteen. Twelve year olds should be focusing on being 12 year olds, going to school and playing with their friends. Governments should be looking for reasonable solutions to the problems cited by Mike Cardinal. Governments should look out for those most at risk, including children, whether that means barring them from working or endorsing not-for-profit day-care.

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7 Comments

  1. Anonymous said,

    Friday, 8 July 2005 at 4:47 pm

    Hmmmmmm, better get rid of all those paper routes and kids who babysit…’cause they are being explioted… oh and all those kids who work in mom n’ pop shops and farm kids… jesus what about the farm kids, chores in the morning and after school and in the summer… my god the exploitation that goes on then….. ohhh the immaturity of it all.

  2. O'Smiley said,

    Friday, 8 July 2005 at 6:57 pm

    Although my comment wont be as sarcastic as the above anonymous’, I would think that the age limit change will not cause a rush of employment by 12 and 13 year olds. Unlike anonymous though, I realize that this is not aimed at paper routes, babysitters, farm kids, or those kids working at mom n’ pop stores as they all employ youth without a problem currently. This is aimed at kids entering fast food employment, providing cheap labour to the corporations. Luckily kids aren’t forced to work and I doubt many will go running to do so now that they can work.

    As for for-profit day-cares, I do believe that this is more directed to mom n’ pop type day-cares and specialty playschool/after-school type child care facilities, and not big business daycares, if such exist. There are many types of child care facilities though and I think that if some parents want to pay for “better” care they should be allowed to, just like they can send their children to for-profit private schools if they wish. This is not health care we’re talking about here.

  3. Manatee said,

    Saturday, 9 July 2005 at 8:11 am

    “Luckily kids aren’t forced to work and I doubt many will go running to do so now that they can work.”

    One of the ugliest aspects of neoliberalism is how it self-perpetuates. Of course, this is contributing to, and will be its downfall. The government may not be forcing 12 yearolds to work, but by presenting this as an opportunity to help families that need a little more money they are skirting the responsibility of solving the problem of poverty. Has the welfare state devolved so far that Mike Cardinal’s comments have the approval of ALbertans?

    Once something becomes approved by the government the public tends to, over time, accept it. There may not be many 12 year olds working at McDOnalds today, but there will be more there this time next year. And chances are, they will be working for minimum wage (I think Alberta’s is still the lowest in the country).

    I think some parents, desperate for money, might force their 12 year old children to work at McDOnalds. Well, this may not be the same as sending your children off to the coal mine, 12 year olds cannot be expected to recognize when they’re being abused by employers or put in dangerous situations.

  4. Manatee said,

    Saturday, 9 July 2005 at 8:14 am

    “This is not health care we’re talking about here.”

    No, but looking after our kids is as important.

  5. O'Smiley said,

    Saturday, 9 July 2005 at 1:00 pm

    I agree, the age change is stupid, but I honestly don’t see it parents forcing thier kids to work or kids feeling obligated to work at 12 and 13 years old. Your comments toward Mike Cardinal is the truth, this is not a method for helping low income families.

  6. O'Smiley said,

    Saturday, 9 July 2005 at 1:17 pm

    As a side note, Alberta’s minimum wage is currently $5.90 which is last amongst provinces. On September 1st 2005 it will be raised to $7.00 which will put it 4th amongst provinces.

    Strangely enought there is a great mix of rules amongst provinces. For Example BC has the highest minimum wage of $8.00 but only after 500 hours of work, before which it is $6.00; As of May 1st Quebec is the 2nd highest at $7.60 except for workers receiving gratuities (tips) for which it is $6.85; Ontario is 3rd with $7.45, except for students for which is $6.95 and for liquor servers which it is $6.50; Nova Scotia is 7th with $6.50 except for inexperienced workers for which it is $6.05.

    A link to the above information can be found here

  7. Friday, 16 March 2007 at 6:28 pm

    […] bars. I wonder where provincial bureaucrats would have gotten the idea that something like this was ok in Alberta. No Comments so far Leave a comment RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI […]


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