OTTAWA – Parliament is debating an NDP private member’s bill that would give unpaid interns workplace standards and safety protections under the Canada Labour Code.
The bill, tabled last spring by Quebec MP Lauren Liu, would ensure that all internships are linked to educational programs and primarily benefit the intern, not the employer.
It would also limit the number of hours of work for unpaid interns, and provide them the right to refuse dangerous work.
The proposed legislation would also prohibit companies from replacing paid work with internships.
While some provinces, including Quebec, Ontario and Alberata, provide some protections to unpaid interns, there are no laws covering federally regulated businesses that use free labour.
The Conservatives have signalled to stakeholders in recent weeks that they are considering cracking down on the use of unpaid interns.
NDP MP Andrew Cash says there are still too many young Canadians being hired to work for free by large, profitable corporations to essentially serve as replacements for paid employees.