A Quebec who still loves his kids?

More than thirty years ago, the publication of the report “A Quebec mad about his kids”, chaired by psychologist Camil Bouchard, made aware of the importance of caring for the well-being of our children. Thirty years later, should we be happy to hear that more and more children under 13 are entering the labor market?

The observation is not new, but labor shortages have exacerbated the phenomenon as many employers are now turning to hiring young people aged 12 and under to alleviate the problem. It is no longer uncommon to see very young people working as clerks in the supermarket or setting the tables in a restaurant. We don’t know the exact number. As absurd as it may seem, there are no official statistics on this trend, which is gaining momentum. We can only rely on the employment rate of 15-19 year olds, which has risen from 43% to 51% in the last five years, to understand that that of 12-year-olds and under has necessarily increased.

And I can already hear some say to me “When I was 10, we worked in the fields with our parents! † Where “You have to appreciate the work and the effort! † or “during this time they are not sitting in front of a screen! † Frankly, can we make decisions for the future of our society based on paradigms other than the? “me me” and “in my time”† Can we change society? Can we correct the mistakes of the past? Can we really worry about our children’s future? Can we also meet their immediate needs? We’re talking about kids! We’re talking about developing people who don’t have the same needs as adults! At the age of 10 or 11, a child still needs to play and socialize with their peers to ensure their cognitive and emotional development. He still needs a certain number of hours of sleep and a regular, balanced diet to ensure his physical development. He still needs to be reassured, loved, listened to and guided. A child remains a child and should not lead an adult life!

The problem isn’t the young person who washes the tables of a restaurant for a few hours on a Sunday. The problem is the inevitable abuse, the drive that awaits us. How many children, attracted by money, will drop out of their studies? How many parents, unable to make ends meet in the face of rising prices, will encourage their children to work to help the family financially? How many employers are going to abuse these young people by making them do tasks that are too difficult or by imposing a schedule that gets in the way of their academic success because they can’t find anyone else to do it? We’ve been hearing about 12-year-olds who work more than 40 hours a week and don’t come to class on Monday mornings exhausted. What future do we reserve for these children?

It’s about time Quebec imposed a minimum working age, as other countries and other provinces have done. The only laws currently in force require an employer to attend school for work until the age of 16, not to send a child to school, and not to impose tasks that are beyond his capabilities or that are harmful. are for its development. But the control mechanisms are almost absent! Only the employers themselves and the children involved are responsible for compliance with these rules. Is it really realistic to think that a 12-year-old knows and dares to defend his rights against a mature employer? Does he know where to go at this age if his rights are not respected?

The Minister of Labor and Employment says he is concerned about the increase in the number of people aged 12 and under in the labor market. His government considered making school compulsory until the age of 18. Perhaps he should consider banning child labor if he wants to be consistent. Because the combination of work and school inevitably leads to an increase in school dropout. Because economic imperatives are likely to quickly take over our children’s needs, which is very disturbing and dangerous. If Quebec still loves its children, it must put in place laws and controls to ensure their development and their future. Can we hope for a better educated society and children better prepared to exercise citizenship? Can we wish our children a fairer future and not a return to 1920s Quebec? Can we prioritize and value education in our society for the future of humanity?

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