Starting this summer, young people under the age of 14 will have to say goodbye to their livelihood at the corner restaurant or at the grocery store. Bill 19 governing child labor, adopted Thursday in Quebec, will certainly have an impact on several businesses and on the summer of vacationers who may have trouble finding a place to eat… on Monday evening.

“In Rouyn-Noranda, last summer during the construction holiday, half of the restaurants were closed,” says the owner of the O’Poulet rotisserie and the O Glacier dairy bar, Marie-Hélène Rivard. Everything suggests that the scenario should repeat itself this year since it is the only way for restaurateurs to give their employees a little rest.

The sites of several establishments, particularly in Gaspésie, indicate that they are not open on Mondays and Tuesdays. Some even welcome their customers from Thursday. Thus, holidaymakers may therefore have to fall back on the local grocery store for sustenance at the start of the week.

This phenomenon, which has grown since the pandemic due to the labor shortage, will only be accentuated by the departure of young workers under the age of 14, according to the Association Restauration Québec (ARQ ). “For many operators, there will be a reflection on the opening hours”, launches bluntly its vice-president of public and governmental affairs, Martin Vézina.

Bill 19 passed in the National Assembly on Thursday stipulates that children under the age of 14 cannot hold employment except, for example, to deliver newspapers, babysit or work in a summer camp. Those who work for their parents will be able to keep their livelihood, if the family business has 10 or fewer employees.

Employers will have 30 days after its sanction to send terminations to their young workers. Once received, the worker can continue to work for approximately two to three weeks. Thus, from mid-July, several companies will have to find alternative solutions. The bill also limits the number of hours of work per week during the school year to 17.

“I am extremely happy. For me, this is a significant step forward, “said the Minister of Labor, Jean Boulet, during a telephone interview with La Presse.

Employers, parents and young workers, what do you think of the new law preventing work for people aged 14 and under?

“The impact will be felt especially in the regions,” said Mr. Vézina. It was a pool of workers for several seasonal businesses. »

The wait to get your ice cream cone or poutine in the canteen could be longer this summer. “Our industry still faces several challenges, remnants of the pandemic, and these young employees gave us a serious helping hand in certain regions, even if they did not constitute the majority of our employee brigades, says Josée Vaillancourt, Director of St-Hubert Group communications. We invite all of these workers to come back to see us as soon as they are old enough…we will surely miss them! “, she said, adding in the wake that the chain of rotisseries would obviously respect the regulations in force.

In Gaspésie, Simon Veilleux, co-owner of a Marché Richelieu grocery store in Causapscal, will have to resolve to lay off Maxime, his 13-year-old nephew. “He works 8 or 9 hours a week when he is in school. During the summer, he was supposed to do more. »

In the summer season, Mr. Veilleux’s business located along Route 132 sees its sales increase by 30%. Many tourists come here to stock up. In anticipation of the summer, and to replace his nephew, he hired two 14-year-olds.

And what will Maxim do? “He’s going to stay with them doing I don’t know what,” he laments. Both of her parents work. I find it really sad for him. »

Despite the dissatisfaction of some entrepreneurs, the Minister of Labor remains convinced that this was the right thing to do. “The bottom line solution to the labor shortage is truly multidimensional. There are other mechanisms that increase productivity. »

But because of recruitment difficulties, could he have given a “respite” to restaurateurs and shopkeepers by allowing workers under the age of 14 to keep their jobs until the end of the summer?

“Are we going to take the risk that there will be accidents on the job this summer for the benefit of having a period of employment? No. I was much more guided by the protection of children to avoid work accidents with serious bodily injury or psychological consequences. The ban will have to apply within the time limits provided for by law. »