Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

Two NDP MPs have tabled a private members Bill aimed at protecting the rights of federally-regulated interns.

Québec MP Laurin Liu (Riviere-des-Mille-Iles) and Ontario NDP Andrew Cash (Davenport) posed the Intern Protection Act on June 16, 2014. The Act would extend workplace standards and protections to unpaid interns and set clear rules and conditions for unpaid internships.

“Under current federal law, there is nothing that prevents unpaid interns from being exploited,” Liu says. “My bill will extend the same workplace protections to interns that employees have.”

Currently, it is unclear whether federally-regulated interns – paid, unpaid or part of an educational program – are subject to employment standards and workplace protections under the Canadian Labour Code. The act applies only to interns for organizations like makes, mobile network operators, airlines, and the federal government.

Information from the Canadian Intern Association says the bill, if passed, will extend employment standards and workplace protections to interns. The act will also set rules and conditions around whether educational training is permissible for unpaid internships.

“The internship must be educational (post-secondary or equivalent), primarily benefit the intern not replace paid employees,” the information states. “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.”

My opinion

I have always stated at the federal laws are nowhere near standards by provinces like Ontario, Québec, and British Columbia. To think that a private member has to initiate a bill that requires changes to federal law that should’ve already been in place is unfathomable!

Think about the different types of hazards interns may face on a daily basis including harassment, which could come in the form of sexual, physical or emotional-type harassment. Where was their protection before this?

I have to say that I was very disturbed by this report.

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Daniel L. Beal

CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.