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

Haida Gwaii libraries launch new ‘takeout’ curbside pickup service

As of June 5, cardholders can once again access physical copies of books, DVDs and more

Blacktail Haida Gwaii working to reopen with new covered patio

Chef-owner Edi Szasz hopes to reopen on June 25, the one-year anniversary of the restaurant

Skidegate daycare staff recognized for creative care during COVID-19

Staff have been using social media to share isolation activities, read stories and sing songs

Village of Queen Charlotte approves business facade improvement grants

Applications from Gather, dental clinic, A Level Up approved, leaving about $14,000 up for grabs

Recycling services in Queen Charlotte, Port Clements expanding next week

Residential plastics will be accepted again, but most residential transfer stations remain closed

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

‘Great Regional Air Hug’ being organized by the Vanderhoof International Airshow Society

A multi-aircraft flyover over the region is being planned for August 15.

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

Most Read