Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Breaking News! No Relief In Sight For Unpaid Internships!

Like the proverbial hot potato being passed around as rapidly as possible, the Ontario Government, true to their corporate puppet masters, has vowed to do nothing about the growing problem of unpaid internships, preferring instead to palm the problem off to the education industry.

As reported in a followup story in today's Star, critics of this egregious exploitation are calling on government to review current labour laws; in its beneficent wisdom, Ontario is declining this opportunity to remediate the situation:

In a statement Tuesday, Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi had this to say:

“While most workers are covered by the Employment Standards Act, there is a narrow exemption that exists for co-op students. It allows for accredited university and college programs to give their students valuable workplace experience while pursuing their degree,” he said.

It is, Naqvi added, the responsibility of the colleges and universities that administer the programs [to provide] a rewarding educational experience.

If the Labour Minister won't soil his hands with this issue, perhaps the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, Brad Duguid, might be moved to intervene?

There are no plans to review Ontario’s academic internships, said Emily Hedges, press secretary to Brad Duguid.

So the abuse continues, corporate profits given that extra boost that only serfdom can provide.

In a related story, The Star has taken 12 readers' comments on the issue from its website. Here are two of them:

For my degree, we had to do a nine-month internship. My degree is not related to the hospitality field; instead I am in the healthcare field. I picked a place that was related to my degree and I thought I would learn a lot. Before accepting me as an “intern student,” they knew what was required and what the purpose of me being there was. Not two weeks after starting, instead of teaching me anything, they had me doing dishes (for 80+ people a day) and cleaning. I am somewhat ashamed I continued with that day in and day out. Nine months of free work and the only thing I learned in the process is we are so vulnerable to being taken advantage of by these companies. jess.polloa

Well said! . . . Scrubbing floors and toilets should be part of an internship, perhaps, paid or unpaid. But businesses who hire interns strictly to make them slaves isn’t right either. Many post-secondary interns, once they get to the work-related parts of their programs, have already slaved away in numerous part-time, summer jobs since high school and know what it’s like to mow grass, clean toilets, etc. Assuming that they have a sense of entitlement is just that — assuming. I’m sure some do, but (I) would put my faith in the fact that the majority do not. bjax1977

As in so many other issues, I suspect it is going to take a critical mass of outrage before this, or any other government, is prepared to actually govern on behalf of the people.


  1. In the old days, Lorne, they used to call this kind of thing indentured servitude.

    1. Leave it to government and business to 'tart up' an ugly reality, Owen.

  2. Welcome to Canada, where our children are your slaves!

    1. Indeed, Dan. Undoubtedly a compelling recruitment incentive for corporate relocation.