A new law in Ontario will change the obligations of employers who hire children for work in the entertainment industry.
The minimum age for working in Ontario is 14 years in most sectors, though the entertainment industry employs children on stage and screen from a very early age.
This private members bill, entitled the Protecting Child Performers Act
, was introduced by Paul Miller, NDP-MPP for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek, and given Royal Assent on May 5, 2015. It creates new employer obligations related to many of the protections traditionally found in collective agreements bargained by unions representing performers such as the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) and the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association (Equity).
In terms of health and safety, employers in this industry have always had to adhere to training and other duties outlined in the Occupational Health & Safety Act
and regulations. They will now also be required to abide by age-specific hours of work and break time rules and provide additional health and safety training for child performers and for their parent/guardian.
This training obligation must be offered in a manner appropriate to the child’s development stage. It must be specific for each working location and address a range of issues including procedures for identifying and reporting unsafe working conditions, restricted areas along with health and safety precautions that should be in place.
The right to refuse unsafe work has also been expanded in that the parent or guardian can refuse work on the child performers’ behalf.
The new law also provides protection for a portion of a minors’ income and requires employers to ensure parental/guardian supervision along with tutoring for those of compulsory school age.
The Protecting Child Performers Act
covers children employed in live and recorded entertainment industries and comes into force on February 5, 2016.
Want to know more about The Protecting Child Performers Act (Bill 17)?
For our part, the Workers Health & Safety Centre (WHSC) can assist workplace parties in the entertainment sector to better understand their health and safety training obligations through a free workplace training compliance audit.
WHSC training programs
and information services
can also help prepare workplace parties to identify and assess work hazards and target prevention at the workplace level. To learn more, contact WHSC and ask to speak with a training services representative.