Canadian Labour Congress President Hassan Yussuff poses for a photo, Thursday, February 14, 2019 in Ottawa. A task force to help Canada’s coal workers adjust to life after coal power says is warning that support for action against climate change will be at risk if Ottawa doesn’t embed policies to help coal towns transition. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

New rules governing unpaid interns in federally regulated sectors released

Feds posted the proposed rules under laws that extended standard health and safety protections to unpaid interns

Unpaid interns in federally regulated industries are getting closer to having some of the same labour protections paid employees get.

They include standard protections like 40-hour work weeks, holidays, maternity-related reassignments and leave. On top of that, the new regulations would add new protections, like unpaid breaks for every five hours worked and an eight-hour rest period between shifts.

The federal government posted the proposed rules under laws that extended standard health and safety protections to unpaid interns in federally regulated private businesses and limited those internships to placements that are part of educational courses. They’re up for 30 days of public comment.

Federally regulated private sectors include activities like banking, telecommunications and some areas of transportation, but not the federal civil service. A 2015 survey found there were 2,346 unpaid interns in these sectors.

Despite the small numbers, one organization consulted on the legislation says the regulations will help reduce exploitive unpaid internships elsewhere as well.

“It sets clear standards that people within the federal jurisdiction will be paid for their work,” said Hassan Yussuff, the president of the Canadian Labour Congress. Yussuff said his organization is “deeply worried” that other provincial and territorial jurisdictions don’t have regulations dealing with unpaid interns, but he hopes they will learn from the federal regulations.

ALSO READ: Federal Liberals aim to add personal leave days as Ontario cuts them back

Yussuff noted that allowing unpaid internships only if the interns get educational credit for their work experience strikes a balance between compensating students and allowing them to have good learning experiences in the private sector.

“The first thing [students] should learn is that if you’re going to work, you should get paid. Nobody should expect that somebody is going to come perform their labour for free. We live in 2019, so those days are long gone,” Yussuff said.

The rules would require an employer to collect paperwork from each intern’s school explaining just how the work placement fits into an education program and how many hours they’re supposed to put in.

The chair of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, a student advocacy group, said the exception the government created for educational internships is not the ideal outcome for students.

“At the end of the day, that’s not as good as getting paid for that work,” said Adam Brown, a student at the University of Alberta, adding students face increasing costs for post-secondary education.

“However, at least they’re getting something out if it,” he said. “We always want to keep moving to make sure students are monetarily paid for their work.”

Eliminating unpaid internships in federally regulated environments was a Liberal campaign promise in 2015.

Legislation to do it was delayed until December 2017 because labour groups, student unions and others representing interns said the protections weren’t strong enough in the Liberals’ first attempt.

Christian Paas-Lang, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sylvan Lake Food Bank fundraiser looking for participants

Brenda Lee Cherry is looking for participants to raise money for the local food bank

46 new COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday in Alberta

Province has completed more than 500,000 COVID-19 tests

BRC Finals in Sylvan Lake moved to next November

The Bull Riders Canada Finals has been postponed, and will return to Sylvan Lake in 2021

Charges laid following shooting in Lacombe County

A man turned himself in to Rimbey RCMP after an incident on July 5

Racist slurs during Conservative leadership debate not surprising: Lewis

Racist slurs during Conservative leadership debate not surprising: Lewis

‘These kind of issues are out here’: New doc examines police violence in Calgary

‘These kind of issues are out here’: New doc examines police violence in Calgary

‘Vowed myself to silence:’ Woman says she couldn’t cope after Edmonton attack

‘Vowed myself to silence:’ Woman says she couldn’t cope after Edmonton attack

Alberta politicians swap charges of bullying, misogyny after member ejected

Alberta politicians swap charges of bullying, misogyny after member ejected

Police chiefs call for decriminalization of personal drug use

Police chiefs call for decriminalization of personal drug use

Serbia bans mass gatherings after virus lockdown protests

Serbia bans mass gatherings after virus lockdown protests

Mississippi seeing big virus outbreak in state legislature

Mississippi seeing big virus outbreak in state legislature

CDC head sticking to school-opening guides Trump criticized

CDC head sticking to school-opening guides Trump criticized

Most Read