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New student working restrictions cause concern for local business

Connor Lalande
Shawville August 30, 2023
The implementation of new working hour restrictions for students has some small business owners concerned – both for their livelihoods and the youth who they employ.
As of September 1, those required to attend school under the Loi sur l’instruction publique - Quebec’s Education Act - are limited in the number of hours they can work within the span of a week.
According to the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) - the provinces workers’ health and safety oversight organization – a young persons working hours “must not exceed 17 hours a week or more than 10 hours from Monday to Friday” if they are mandated to attend school under Quebec law.
Under Quebec’s Education Act, those who are under 16 years of age and do not have their Secondary diploma and those who turn 16 during the school year are required to attend school and therefore fall within the updated working hour restrictions.
In addition to the hour restrictions, the CNESST website reads, employers must also ensure that a young person’s working schedule does not interfere with school hours and allows them to be home at night, defined as being between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. the following morning.
A few exceptions to the 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. working ban timeframe exist, notably for babysitters and those who deliver newspapers.
Changes to the Labour
Standards Act
According to CNESST Media Relations Advisor Antoine Leclerc-Loiselle, the working hour restrictions stem from amendments to the province’s Labour Standards Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act by the Quebec National Assembly.
Leclerc-Loiselle insists that the CNESST’s primary approach will be awareness and prevention.

“The CNESST is doing everything in its power to support employers in implementing the legislative changes and is planning various means of communication to do so. In particular, it is deploying a communications plan to publicize the Act, including an advertising campaign (radio spots, bus shelter posters, etc.),” he wrote in an email to THE EQUITY
For businesses who breach child labour provisions under the Labour Standards Act, he wrote, fines ranging from $600 to $6,000 for first time offences and $1,200 and $12,000 for repeat offenders can be levied.
Now Hiring
Lisa Cartman, who owns Shawville area restaurant Cartrites, says that the new working hour restrictions for youth are just one of a series of challenges affecting her as a small business owner.
She says increasing food prices and requirements for staff to speak French have already posed challenges, but as she employs several youths who fall under the new working hour restrictions criteria, she says she will need to hire at least two more students for after school hours. So far, she says since she posted a job advertisement on August 20, only one has applied.
While she admits that the new regulations bring staffing challenges, Cartman says she feels bad for the youth being affected as many of them are working to save money for school or out of financial necessity.
“There is a maximum amount of what they can make now. I feel bad because when I was a teenager, I worked and I used that money to save up for school so that I had money for books and all those sorts of things,” said Cartman. “Many of them work because they need to.”

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