Federal proposals on unpaid internships ‘galling,’ advocates say
If implemented, the changes would allow for four-month unpaid internships in federally-regulated sectors like banking and telecommunications.
The advocacy group representing Canadian students and interns has withdrawn from the federal government’s consultations on how to improve protections for young workers because the proposals will allow unpaid internships, the Star has learned.
If implemented, the changes to the Canada Labour Code would permit unpaid internships of up to four months in federally regulated sectors like banking and telecommunications — so long as the position is “primarily for the benefit of the intern” and does not replace a paid position.
But advocates say the proposed guidelines are a recipe for exploitation.
“Essentially what the federal government is going to be allowing here is for four-months unpaid probationary periods for all new hires,” said Andrew Langille, general counsel for the Canadian Intern Association.
On Monday, the organization wrote to newly appointed Employment Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk to express “grave concern” over the proposals, which were initiated under Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper.
“We are appealing to you to immediately halt the implementation of the loopholes established by the former government,” the letter reads.