Canadian Intern Association urges Minister Mihychuk not to follow through on the Harper government’s unpaid internship loopholes

Earlier today, the Canadian Intern Association wrote Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour MaryAnn Mihychuk urging her government to halt the Canada Labour Program’s unpaid internship consultations and to enact meaningful reforms to prevent employee misclassification in the federal jurisdiction.

The current consultations focus on the establishment of regulations for the coming into force of the unpaid internship loopholes created by the Harper government in the 2015 Budget Implementation Act. The Canadian Intern Association adamantly opposes these provisions, which will allow federally regulated employers to “hire” unpaid interns if certain conditions are met.

The Canadian Intern Association wrote Minister Mihychuk urging her to halt the coming into force of these provisions, and to notify her of our withdrawal from further participation in the Canada Labour Program’s consultations.

A copy of the Canadian Intern Association’s letter is available here.

Want to add your voice to the campaign? Click here to tell Minister Mihychuk to not follow through on the Harper government’s unpaid internship loopholes.

BIG WIN! Federal gov agrees to better intern protections

The Government of Canada has announced that it plans to “strengthen Canada Labour Code protections for all employees and interns under federal jurisdiction.” (page 16 of the Budget in Brief)

The complete 2015 Federal Budget devotes almost two pages to “Modernizing” and “Strengthening Compliance” with the Canada Labour Code (page 169-170). The Canadian Intern Association was quoted directly!

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Media, please contact Claire Seaborn at 647 528 2348 or claire@internassociation.ca

Ontario labour ministry taking steps against illegal internships

Today the Canadian Intern Association received a letter from the Director of Employment Standards at the Ontario Ministry of Labour with information regarding their recent inspection blitzes.

The Canadian Intern Association would like to commend the Ministry of Labour to taking steps towards enforcing the laws surrounding internships in Ontario. We hope that other provinces will follow this example and that employers across Canada will be encouraged to comply with employment standards.

Download the PDF of the letter here

From April 1 to June 15, 2014, the Ministry of Labour conducted a proactive enforcement blitz in sectors known to hire a high proportion of interns. The purpose of the blitz was to promote compliance with the Employment Standards Act, 2000, as well as to educate employers and provide them with information materials.

The inspectors visited 56 employers in sectors such as advertising, public relations, computer systems design, consulting services, and information services and found:

  • 8 employers had no internship programs
  • 13 employers had internship positions that were all exempt
  • 5 employers had internship positions with no contraventions.
  • 17 employers did not have active internship programs at the time of the  inspection
  • 13 employers had internship positions with ESA contraventions

Based on the inspections, the inspectors issued 37 orders for compliance and to pay wages. A total of $48,543 was owed in unpaid wages, vacation pay, and public holiday pay. The inspectors also found violations for wage statements, record keeping, and hours of work.

For more information on the Ontario Ministry of Labour Employment Standards Program’s proactive enforcement efforts click here.

Media can contact Claire Seaborn at 647 528 2348 or claire@internassociation.ca

The Intern Protection Act : a new private member’s bill to protect intern’s rights

Today Members of Parliament Andrew Cash and Laurin Liu announced a private members bill entitled the Intern Protections Act. 

Details were released at a press conference at noon on Parliament Hill. Also in attendance was Matt Furgeson, the brother of Andy Furgeson, who died in a head-on collision in 2011 after working excessive hours as an unpaid intern at a radio station in Alberta, who is supporting the legislation.

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Content of the Intern Protection Act:

The Intern Protection Act will only apply to interns working for federally-regulated organizations, banks, mobile network operators, broadcasters, airlines, and the federal government.

Currently, it is unclear whether federally-regulated interns (whether paid, unpaid, or part of an educational program) are subject to employment standards and workplace protections under the Canada Labour Code.  

The Intern Protection Act would:

1. Extend workplace standards and protections to all unpaid interns 

The Intern Protection Act would extend employment standards and workplace protections to interns (paid and unpaid) that already apply to regular employees. The bill will provide interns with:

  • health and safety protections (right to refuse dangerous work, inclusion in all accident and reporting laws, etc.)
  • reasonable hours of work (maximum 48 hours per week, one full day of rest each week, and 9 statutory holidays)
  • protection from sexual harassment

2. Set clear rules and conditions for the use of any unpaid internship

The Intern Protection Act would set clear rules and conditions around when an unpaid internship is permissible for educational or equivalent training ensuring the intern receives the bulk of the benefit and will make all other unpaid internships illegal.

  • The internship must be educational (post-secondary or equivalent), primarily benefit the intern, and not replace paid employees
  • Employers must notify the intern of the terms of the internship including duration, hours, type of activities, and that they will not be paid, and keep records of the hours worked

Canadian Intern Association reaction:

The Canadian Intern Association would like to commend and congratulate MPs Laurin Liu and Andrew Cash on their initiative in putting together this bill.

In March I appeared as a witness before the House of Commons Finance Committee and am very please that our recommendations are being realized through this bill.

The Intern Protection Act is a huge step forward for protecting interns’ rights federally and will hopefully encourage the provinces to continue to make improvements. Over the past two years the interns’ rights movement has grown around the world and I am very pleased to see action happening at the federal level in Canada.

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Media coverage:

For comments, please contact Claire Seaborn at 647 528 2348 or claire@internassociation.ca.

 

MPP Jonah Schein introduces Private Members Bill

Ontario MPP Jonah Schein is at Queen’s Park today at a press conference introducing his Private Members Bill on internships. Also in attendance is employment lawyer Andrew Langille and Canadian Intern Association Executive Team member Kyle Iannuzzi.

Although we do not have all the details yet, this bill would:

  • Grant unpaid interns more protections under the Ontario Employment Standards Act, such as regular work day, eating periods, and holidays
  • Require employers to provide written notice to the Ontario government when they take on unpaid interns. This would assist the Ministry of Labour with data collection and enforcement.
  • Create a complaint system that allows complaints to be submitted by third parties and interns anonymously
  • Require employers to post a poster with information about intern’s rights in Ontario in the workplace prepared by the Ministry of Labour

The creation of this Bill is very exciting news for the interns rights movement. It is the first of its kind in North America and will hopefully set a positive example for other jurisdictions. It is clear law reform is required when it comes to internships in Canada and we would like to commend Jonah Schein for his initiative with this Bill.

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Here are links to some media coverage of the Bill: