February 17th, 2015

NDP will protect interns

New Democrats are calling on all MPs to crack down on the abuse of unpaid internships and extend workplace standards and safety provisions to interns. NDP’s Intern Protection Act C-636 will have its first hour of debate in parliament tonight.

“The Conservatives have presided over a youth jobs crisis which has forced so many young people to work for free with the hope of finding opportunities in the future,” said NDP MP Laurin Liu (Rivière-des-Mille-Îles) who introduced the bill. “Parliament must adopt our bill to end the abuse of unpaid internships and ensure that interns are protected under the Canada Labour Code.”

The Intern Protection Act grants basic protections to all interns in federally regulated industries, such as the right to refuse dangerous work, limits on excessive hours and protection from sexual harassment. The bill would also ensure that internships are used primarily for the benefit of the intern, include training, and would not replace paid employees.

In 2011, 22-year-old Andy Ferguson died in a head-on collision when he fell asleep at the wheel after working excessive hours as an unpaid intern at a radio station. The not-for-profit organization Career Edge which helps place paid internships in many federally regulated industries has called this bill “a huge and positive step forward.”

“After a decade of Conservative government, Canada’s youth are working harder without even getting paid,” said NDP MP Andrew Cash (Davenport) who has been campaigning for protection of interns and urban workers. “Surely MPs from all parties would agree with the NDP that interns deserve the same protections as any other worker in Canada.