The Alberta Federation of Labour has learned the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) has altered its policy regarding the hiring of minors to work in bars and lounges. Effectively immediately, bar and lounge owners can apply to use 12-17 year-olds in the kitchen area of their establishments.
The AFL received a copy of an email (dated March 15, 2007) widely distributed by the Canadian Restaurant and Food Services Association (CRFA) trumpeting the decision. An AFL staffer subsequently confirmed the change this morning with the AGLC's Executive Director of Regulatory Affairs. This follows the decision last year by the Alberta government to allow restaurants to hire 12 to 14 year-olds.
"Minors aren't allowed in bars, but they can toil away in the kitchens of bars. The logic of this is beyond belief," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "No one can convince me that a bar atmosphere is appropriate for a young teenager. Drunk patrons, worldly staff and alcohol sales add up to an adult environment, both in the bar and behind the scenes. It is no place for a 12-year old."
The AGLC indicates the change was made at the request of the CRFA due to their claims of labour shortages.
"The Alberta government has its priorities completely backward," says McGowan. "It is supposed to protect our kids, but instead it slavishly serves the self-interests of an industry with a spotty employment track record."
"Hiring 12-year olds to work in restaurants is indefensible enough. Hiring them to work in bars is a whole new level of appalling."
The AGLC says it will weigh the merits of each application, denying applications for employers who have breached their licenses in some way. "I�ll believe it when I see it," responds McGowan. "Where are the checks and balances?"
"Who will stand up to protect our young people from being exploited? Clearly not the Conservative government," McGowan concludes.
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Gil McGowan Cell: (780) 218-9888