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Friday, June 24, 2005

Wow. Good news and bad news for the world of McDonald's. From the viewpoint of the anti-McDonald's activist, that is.

First the good news: One of the most controversial McDonald's locations in the country has been shut down. The McDonald's in Jasper has closed its doors. That's right, you can no longer enjoy a Big Mac while walking down Connaught Drive and gazing at Mt. Edith Cavell in the distance. When McDonald's first opened their Jasper location in 2000, they were met with protesters and petitions telling them to get out of town. It was a vision of urbanization that most didn't want in their quiet mountain town. Now, 5 years later, it's gone. The official reason from McDonald's is that this is part of a "corporate streamlining" plan that they started 2 years ago. The rumour on the street in Jasper, though, is that McDonald's just couldn't get enough employees. There seems to be a bit of a labour shortage in Jasper, and even with McDonald's offering $10/hour as starting wages, they just couldn't get enough workers.

Now, the bad news...kind of playing off the labour shortage thing. Here in the Province of Alberta, 12-year olds can now work at McDonald's! The legal age to work in a fast food restaurant used to be 14, but the government just reduced it to 12. See, originally, 12-year olds could only work as store clerks, office workers, and paperboys. If your 12-year old wanted to work in a job other than that, then there was a special excemption form that had to be filed with the government. According to the government, they've been processing so many of those excemption forms for fast food restaurants lately (500 last year), that they figured it was just easier to legalize it. It's not just fast food restaurants but all restaurants that can now legally hire 12-year olds.

there are still some special excemptions for employees aged 12-14, though. They can't work the graveyard shift, they can only work 2 hours a day on school days, and they can't operate machinery. In restaurants, the means deep fryers, grills, and pretty much all manner of kitchen equipment.

But still, what kind of a society do we live in where 12-year olds can now work in fast food places?

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