"If this government really wants to help young workers and interns, it would ensure that their rights to employment standards regulations and protections were included in the Canada Labour Code." — James Clancy, NUPGE National President
Ottawa (10 Feb. 2016) — Before the last federal election, the Conservative government had started a consultation process to examine the Canada Labour Porgram. Since being elected, the Liberal government has continued that process, specifically focusing on the subject of internships. The Canada Labour Code does not address the issue of internships.
What the Conservatives had proposed, and what the Liberals are moving forward, was to allow federally regulated sectors to create up to four months of unpaid internships. The only condition is that the position must be "primarily for the benefit of the student."
Liberals continue to propose 4-month unpaid internships in federally regulated sectors
This proposal has been raising eyebrows, at least for those who are looking to increase the protections afforded to young workers. Especially after a number of companies, like Bell Canada, have exploited the unpaid internship programs. Bell ended its internship program in 2014.
Hassan Yusuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), said “I think we need to give young people the same protection that other workers have in the workplace." The CLC is the umbrella organization representing 3.3 million workers across the country.
"Why ever would profitable companies like TD Bank, or Bell, require four months of free labour," asks James Clancy, National President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). "If this government really wants to help young workers and interns, it would ensure that their rights to employment standards regulations and protections were included in the Canada Labour Code."
Federal government campaigned on helping young workers, now needs to follow through on promise
The Canadian Intern Association has written to the new Minister of Employment, Workfo4ce Development and Labour, MaryAnn Mihychuk, urging her to reconsider moving forward with these proposals.
As the CIA's letter points out, "Your government has made significant financial commitments to youth job creation. We respectfully submit that following through with the former government’s unpaid internship loopholes is at odds with this commitment."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE