Saturday, March 24, 2007

Oliver Twist In Alberta

This is what happens when you ban smoking in the bars and resteraunts to protect children from second hand smoke while simultaneously changing the laws in Alberta to allow child labour in those same bars and restaurants.

What was the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission's (AGLC) vision when it agreed to allow kids as young as 12 to work in nightclubs and bars? Never mind that the province has since scotched -- no pun intended -- the idea. How would it have worked?

Oh yeah and you plan to do it through secretive back room cabal like meetings between the government and its business pals, with no plan to announce it to the public until it was fait accompli.

On Thu, Mar 15, Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) officials responded to an inquiry from the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA) about the possibility of allowing bars and pubs to hire underage staff to work in kitchens or other non-drinking areas of licensed establishments by indicating that it would consider such requests on a case-by-case basis.

A long-standing AGLC policy has allowed minors to enter licensed establishments under special circumstances—in many cases, as musicians or some other kinds of performers—with parental consent and the approval of the AGLC. The commission advised the CRFA that bars wishing to hire a minor could apply to do so under the same provision.

The next day, an email from CRFA’s Vice President for Western Canada, Mark von Schellwitz, was sent to the association’s members advising them of the new policy. The email was leaked to the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL), who alerted the media that the Alberta Government was effectively opening the door for children as young as 12 to work in licensed establishments. Sensational editorials followed (the Calgary Sun, for example, asked “You have to wonder, if not for [the AFL], when would we have heard about the new rules? Maybe the first time a teenage dishwasher ran into a drunk in the bar washroom.”) and public outcry quickly forced the government to reverse its policy.
Perhaps this is another reason to allow for smoking in designated well ventilated areas of bars and resteraunts, to avoid having children exposed to the dangers of smoke since the government considers that far more important than protecting children from the usual dangers in the work place, hence all the recent deaths of teen agers on construction sites.


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