Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 28, 2005
Trustees buck cheap labour law
ACSTA worry teens' restaurant jobs will drain time and energy from the rest of their lives
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Adolescents should not go to work in an adult environment, says the Alberta Catholic School Trustees' Association.
The ACSTA decided to take a strong stand against a recent change to the Alberta Employment Standards Code allowing 12 to 14-year-olds to work in the food services industry without a permit.
At its annual convention Nov. 19, trustees from across the province adopted a resolution from Calgary Catholic Schools calling on the association to oppose the change because of its negative impact on the student's moral, social, emotional and educational development.
The ACSTA will lobby Alberta Education to oppose the change. Some trustees who argued the issue was one of social justice, not education, opposed the resolution.
But Calgary trustee Cathie Williams told the assembly of about 200 Catholic school trustees and superintendents that the issue was one of both education and social justice.
"It should also be understood that our intention is not to interfere with traditional family work activity such as ranching and farming that might involve young people working under the supervision of their own parents," she said.
"We feel the minister needs to push back those whose primary concern is with the needs of cheap, unskilled labour."
Williams said young students could end up working up to 26 hours a week. She urged the association to lobby the government to monitor the situation.
In July, Alberta Human Resources and Employment announced it had changed the province's employment standards, allowing restaurants as an approved occupation for adolescents - those between the ages of 12 to 14.
Employers no longer had to apply for a provincial permit to hire an adolescent.
The government said it was just getting rid of red tape by doing away with the permits previously required by food service businesses before they could hire youngsters.
Some saw the move as a way for the government to avoid raising the province's minimum wage as the young teens would work for the low hourly amount.
Debbie Cavaliere had little doubt it was a social justice issue. But the Edmonton trustee could not support the resolution.
"Since I have been a trustee, the ACSTA has always been careful to limit itself to issues of Catholic education in the province. I believe if we step into this arena, we are going beyond our mandate."
Not a Catholic issue
Red Deer trustee Gord Bontje felt the same way. "This is not a Catholic education issue," he said.
Meanwhile, an earlier resolution by the ACSTA to conduct a feasibility study of developing a provincial organization of Catholic school parents was defeated.
The resolution would have allowed the association to investigate the need and possibilities for parents to be involved in Catholic school education issues beyond their jurisdictions.
During the meeting, Marilyn Welsch was re-elected ACSTA president by acclamation. It will be the Holy Spirit (Lethbridge) trustee's third consecutive term as president. Elk Island trustee Ted Paszek was re-elected ACSTA vice-president, also by acclamation, for a second consecutive term.