Re Fairmont’s Unpaid Internship Program

Yesterday the CBC wrote about the backlash Vancouver’s Fairmont Waterfront Hotel received on twitter after advertising an unpaid “bus person” internship position. Individuals from Fairmont and Vancouver Community College defended the internship. Read the full CBC article here. Also check out the Huffington Post article.

The Canadian Intern Association has been watching Fairmont’s internship program for months. Here are a few of the advertisements for unpaid positions we have come across for the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto:

  • Accounting Intern” – tasks include “check banquet charges for accuracy and report any discrepancies,” “send out bills within corporate timeframe requirements,” “insure accurate application of payment to accounts,” “attend monthly credit meetings” and “punctually respond (within 8 hours) to inquiries of guests and staff to comply with reasonable specifical requests”
  • Human Resources Intern” – tasks include “telephone inquiries including verification of employment, references, and general information,” “fulfill the secretarial functions of the department including filing, distribution of mail, maintaining stationary supplies, ensuring smooth paper flow through the department,” “letters of employment,”
  • Purchasing Intern” – tasks include “set-up and maintain daily order sheets for food stores and applicable departments,” “preparation and distribution of purchase orders,” and “investigate and resolve order discrepancies”

You can view the full advertisements for these positions at the bottom of this article. Unsurprisingly, Fairmont has taken a lot of their internship advertisements off job search websites so we could not get access to the others. If you come across any Fairmont internship advertisements (or hospitality internships in general) please send them to

It goes without saying that I find these internships to be problematic. Based on the advertisements it appears that these interns would be doing the same tasks as many staff members and are likely replacing paid employees. The advertisements do not have much to say about training or an educational component of the internship, beyond basic training that would be expected in a job of this type. Fairmont is clearly a company that is capable of paying interns and should be compensating its employees accordingly. These Fairmont internships are legal under Ontario’s Employment Standards Act since the interns are doing the internship as part of a college or university program.

I should also mention that Fairmont is not the only company offering unpaid internships in the hospitality industry. The Four Seasons also has an extensive internships program where the unpaid internships are also for academic credit.

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