What started as a typical day at Cool Springs turned strange for the Covlins when Health and safety officials showed up unexpectedly and announced that eight-year-old Emma and her 10-year-old sister, Kate, were breaking the law. By helping out on the family's farm.
According to an article in the National Post, the Covlin daughters were trained farm hands who had grown up working in the family business—a chicken processing plant.
Provincial laws dictate the age at which children can start work. Typically, in Canada, that's around 14, yet the law is a bit looser in Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, where the hours and type of work are limited. Farm work isn't considered hazardous, per se, but that's not to say it's appropriate either.
“Child labour in general, particularly for children under 12 is deemed to be a bad thing because children are not physically or cognitively or emotionally mature enough, generally, to undertake work in a safe manner—there are threats to their physical health, their mental and emotional development,” said Professor for Work and Community Studies at Athabasca University, Bob Barnetson.
Farming in this country has traditionally been a family business, yet perhaps the times have changed, as Cool Springs recently found out.
Is the government being "overbearing" in this case or simply protecting the rights of children?
Is this mom's means for getting her kids to do chores misguided or genius?