CHILD LABOUR TO­DAY

Canada's History - - FROM THE ARCHIVES - Nancy Payne

In Canada, kids now spend their days in school rather than at work. De­pend­ing on which prov­ince or ter­ri­tory they live in, young­sters here can legally start work­ing when they’re around four­teen. There are ex­cep­tions for some types of work, such as farm­ing and the­atri­cal per­for­mances. Teenagers are typ­i­cally not al­lowed to work dur­ing school hours.

But the ugly re­al­ity of child labour persists else­where. The United Na­tions es­ti­mates that eleven per cent of the world’s child pop­u­la­tion — about 168 mil­lion chil­dren — work, many of them full-time. Nearly half of those chil­dren work in hazardous con­di­tions, are forced into il­licit work, or are en­slaved. A 2014 study con­cluded that the worst coun­tries for child labour are Eritrea, So­ma­lia, the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of the Congo, Myan­mar, and Su­dan, with Afghanistan, Pak­istan, Zim­babwe, Ye­men, and Bu­rundi round­ing out the un­en­vi­able top ten. Child labour ac­tivists say Cana­di­ans shouldn’t feel too su­pe­rior, be­cause some of our im­ported goods have a high risk of hav­ing child labour used in their pro­duc­tion.

The United King­dom, the Nether­lands, and France have all passed fed­eral leg­is­la­tion tar­get­ing prod­ucts made with child labour and forced labour, and the UN’s sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment goals call for the erad­i­ca­tion of all child labour by 2025. —

A five-year- old girl sells car­rots on a street in Bo­gor, In­done­sia.

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