Exciting new changes in the 2017 Budget

The federal government’s 2017 Budget was released in Ottawa on Wednesday, and the Canadian Intern Association is very pleased to see a positive announcement in defense of intern rights. The Budget includes the following:
The Government of Canada has agreed to ban unpaid internships in federally regulated sectors (with the exception of internships which are part of an educational program). The Canadian Intern Association has been lobbying for this amendment to the Canada Labour Code since 2013, and are hopeful that these amendments will finally be adopted.
 
“These changes mark an important first step to respecting and compensating the work done by young Canadians and new employees”, stated Claire Seaborn, Chair of the Canadian Intern Association Advisory Board. “We are pleased to see that the government has listened to concerns raised by the Canadian Intern Association and so many of our partners who continue to speak out about the rights of young and precarious workers.”
 
While federal sector unpaid internships make up a small percentage of unpaid internships in Canada (most are provincially regulated), this amendment will prohibit unpaid internships outside of school programs from some of Canada’s largest companies in banking, telecommunications, and transport sectors.
 
“We consider this to be a positive first step in the regulation of unpaid internships in Canada. It must be remembered that this change, while important, only covers a fraction of workplaces in Canada. Provincial legislation is needed across Canada to address precarious, unpaid labour that far too many Canadian workers are being forced into” stated Joshua Mandryk, Ontario Director of the Canadian Intern Association. The Canadian Intern Association has recently participated in the Ontario government’s Changing Workplaces Review, and hopes to see further protections against unpaid internships reflected there. 
 
The Canadian Intern Association is also committed to fighting for wage protections concerning internships that are part of academic programs.
 
“We look forward to working with the federal government to implementing the Budget 2017 reforms so that they are meaningful and effective in protecting interns from exploitation” stated Claire Seaborn.
 
Background 
 
This is not the first time the intern question has emerged in the federal budget. In 2015, the Conservative government proposed amendments to the Canada Labour Code around the definition and scope of internships. The proposal remained in the consultation stage until recently, with little progression and only tacit support from the current government. The Canadian Intern Association publicly stepped away from those consultation as the proposed amendments fell far short of expert and public opinion. The Budget 2017 proposal has come a long way in addressing the Canadian Intern Association’s longstanding concerns with respect to the Canada Labour Code.

From the QP Briefing: Andrew Langille dismisses Plan for mandatory co-op dismissed as ‘unworkable’

The article below appeared in the QP Briefing, a publication covering Ontario politics, and features the Canadian Intern Association’s General Counsel, Andrew Langille.
June 28, 2016
Plan for mandatory co-op dismissed as ‘unworkable’ by labour lawyer
By Sabrina Nanji

Last week’s report from the government’s workforce expert panel calls for students to complete work experience programs, but fails to map out the “billions of dollars” it will take to implement, says youth and labour lawyer Andrew Langille.

A plan to make co-op and work experience placements mandatory for Ontario’s high school, college and university students is being shrugged off as a pipe dream by a prominent labour and youth lawyer.

Andrew Langille, a Toronto-based lawyer who focuses on the school-to-labour market and serves as general counsel to the Canadian Intern Association, has dismissed an Ontario panel’s report recommending mandatory co-op and subsequent governmental aspirations as “unworkable.”

“It’s a non-starter … There’s a lot of what-ifs,” Langille told QP Briefing. “What I do see is a lot of buzzwords being repeated, but in terms of a concrete plan, it just isn’t there. It seems to be a waste of money from what I can tell.”

As suggested in last week’s report from the premier-appointed Highly Skilled Workforce Expert Panel, Ontario should be forking over cash for work experience or co-op placements for all high-school students, and another for those in college and university. That would include traditional (engineering and skilled trades) as well as non-traditional (liberal arts) career paths. The panel also recommended improving access to better labour market information, and to establish a “planning and partnership table” under a newly created government “workforce planning and development office,” to implement the plan.

Whereas Premier Kathleen Wynne indicated her intent to adopt the recommendations, Langille is skeptical about a lack of a roadmap – and therein lies the rub. Without a detailed plan, the plan has little chance of becoming a reality, he said. For one, making co-op mandatory would take “billions” that the province – with projections currently forecasting a $5-billion deficit and net debt expected to rise from the 2015-16 fiscal year’s $296 billion – simply doesn’t have.

“To ensure high quality sustainable placements there needs to be some level of funding, and for every student, that would be somewhere in the neighbourhood of billions of extra dollars injected into the system to set up the necessary infrastructure – that’s not going to happen,” Langille said.

He cited the University of Waterloo, which operates the most comprehensive co-op program in the country, with nearly 20,000 students enrolled over three semesters (two in the classroom, one on the job), and involves more than 6,000 employers. Even at the best of times, Langille said the institution struggles to find a co-op job for everyone.

“Bringing in 50 or 60 other institutions on line to deliver students good high quality placements, again, I don’t see it being workable,” he said.

Of particular concern is the makeup of the panel itself, whose members were comprised of business and education experts. The report cites and also bears resemblance to a previous one from the Business-Higher Education Roundtable (made up of university and college heads and corporate executives), which earlier this month also recommendedmandatory work experience programs for post-secondary students.

Both reports take the view that people are commodities – the government’s panel itself refers to students as “human capital” – and, despite consultation with organized labour and student groups, leaves out input from those key players from the final recommendations, Langille contends.

“One really wonders why only a narrow business oriented viewpoint is reflected … business is but one stakeholder in a larger discussion,” he said, adding: “What’s clear to me is that this whole system of work integrated learning in Ontario is broken to a certain extent, and I don’t see any acknowledgement of that in the panel’s report.”

Instead of pursuing the panel’s findings, the government should instead address the labour market itself, particularly precarious work, according to Langille. The Ministry of Labour has hinted it would indeed include precarious and temporary work in its ongoing Changing Workplaces Review, which will reform the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act. The review is due to conclude later this year.

For now, the government has maintained that its panel recommendations serve as one way to address a skills gap in the market. Langille counters that gap “doesn’t exist.” The panel falls somewhere in the middle. It acknowledges there was scant evidence to support fears of a wide ranging lacking, rather Ontario’s job landscape reflects pockets of discrepancies depending on region and sector.

“No single solution or stakeholder would be able to close this gap,” the report noted.

The expert panel was appointed last December and included chair Sean Conway, who was education minister and minister of colleges, universities and skills development during the David Peterson era, Carol Campbell, who has been an education adviser to the Wynne government, Robert Hardt, president and CEO of Siemens Canada, Alison Loat, co-founder of the charity foundation Samara, and Pradeep Sood, chairman of Highbury Canco Corp., a food processing company.

To contact the reporter on this story: 

snanji@qpbriefing.com

We’re Making a Know Your Rights Guide for Interns and Young Workers – Can You Help?

As part of our ongoing commitment to public legal education and improving the workplace rights of interns, we’re making a ‘know your rights’ guide for interns and young workers – the Canadian Intern Rights Guide.

The Guide will be a powerful tool for interns to learn, enforce and improve their rights at work, but we need your help to make it a reality.

Can you chip in $25 or more to help with our printing costs? We are committed to ethical sourcing and printing the Guide at a union shop, but we are a not-for-profit with a shoestring budget. We need help from our supporters and allies to make the Guide a reality.

As recognition for your generous support, if you make a donation of $25* or more to the Canadian Intern Association between November 1st and December 31st 2015, we will send you a complementary copy of the Canadian Intern Rights Guide when it’s printed in early 2016!

Better yet – do you know a young worker who could use a copy of the Guide? Simply provide their name and address in the “purpose” section of your Paypal donation of $25* or more, and we’ll send them a complementary copy of the Canadian Intern Rights Guide!

Donate now, and help make the Canadian Intern Rights Guide a reality!

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* $25 or more includes shipping within Canada. For shipping outside of Canada, we ask for a minimum donation of $35 to defray the increased shipping costs.