Canada ratifies international convention, takes stand against child labour and exploitation

GATINEAU, QC, June 8, 2016 /CNW/ - Canada has officially ratified an international treaty that seeks to eliminate child labour and ensure children do not leave school to join the workforce full time.

The Honorable MaryAnn Mihychuk, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, announced today in Geneva the Government of Canada's ratification of the International Labour Organization's Minimum Age Convention, 1973.

The Convention requires ratifying member states to set a minimum age for employment of at least 15 years and to prohibit hazardous work for young workers under the age of 18, unless specific measures are put in place.

Ratifying Convention 138 (as it is also known) is part of the Government of Canada's plan to strengthen Canada's place in the world and rebuild our international influence. Last month, Minister Mihychuk attended a G7 meeting for ministers of education in Japan where she pursued opportunities for Canadian leadership in education, training, apprenticeships and skills development.

Ratifying Convention 138 is not expected to negatively impact Canadian businesses and operations such as family farms, or part-time work by Canadian teens working at babysitting, camp counselling or other similar jobs.

The Convention will come into force 12 months from today, in June 2017.


"Ratifying Convention 138 sends a clear message about Canada's interests and values. We stand together with countries around the world denouncing child labour, exploitation and abuse. Canadian leadership can have a positive influence in the world, and ratifying Convention 138 is the right thing to do."
– The Honourable MaryAnn Mihychuk, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour

"Putting an end to child labour is one aspect of Canada's overall approach to human rights and social justice, and part of Canada's longstanding effort to improve the lives of children and youth. International Labour Organization Convention 138 on minimum age for employment is one of the most effective international instruments for encouraging an end to child labour, which deprives children of their childhood, potential and dignity. Ratifying Convention 138 sends a strong message on behalf of all Canadians that children belong in school, and not in the workplace."
– The Honorable Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs

"I am particularly pleased to welcome Canada among the States party to Convention No. 138, which commits to set a minimum age for admission to work or employment. This represents another positive development in the country's continued efforts towards the full respect of fundamental rights at work."
Guy Ryder, Director-General, International Labour Organization and Secretary-General of the International Labour Conference

"We applaud the Canadian government for ratifying Convention 138. Protecting children from hazardous work and eliminating child labour have been long-standing priorities for Canada's unions. We believe it is important to give young people every opportunity to develop skills that will benefit them as they enter the workforce and the ratification of Convention 138 helps do just that. We look forward to continuing to work with the Honourable MaryAnn Mihychuk, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, to improve the lives of all Canadians."
– Hassan Yussuff, President, Canadian Labour Congress

Quick Facts

  • Convention 138 is one of eight fundamental conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO) that are considered core to promoting decent work.
  • Canada joins 168 countries around the world that have also ratified Convention 138.
  • The ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that sets international labour standards, encourages decent employment opportunities, enhances social protection and strengthens dialogue on work-related issues. Canada is one of the 187 member states of the ILO.
  • International labour standards take the form of conventions and protocols, which are legally binding international treaties subject to ratification by member states, and recommendations, which provide non-binding guidance. They influence labour laws and practices in ILO member states and contribute to improved labour and employment conditions for workers globally.

Associated Links

Minimum Age Convention, 1973 
Labour Program 
International Labour Organization

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SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada

For further information: John O'Leary, Director of Communications, Office of the Honourable MaryAnn Mihychuk, P.C., M.P., Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, 819-654-5611; Media Relations Office, Employment and Social Development Canada, 819-994-5559,

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