Protecting Interns and Vulnerable Workers
On March 4th, I introduced Bill 170: Employment Standards Amendment Act (Greater Protection for Interns and Vulnerable Workers) Bill 170 will protect vulnerable workers and unpaid interns in Ontario.
In my riding of Davenport and across Ontario, young people are feeling squeezed. They pay the highest college and university fees in the country and when they graduate there are not enough good jobs available for them. Almost half of all jobs in the GTA are precarious – often these are contract jobs with no benefits, no holiday pay and no security. A lot of the entry-level jobs that used to exist have been replaced with unpaid internships that young people are often encouraged to work to get job experience.
Internships can offer valuable training opportunities for young people to help them gain the skills and experience they need to enter the workforce.
But far too often we see that the internship system doesn’t work as it should. At my press conference on March 4th, Septembre Anderson shared her experience working as an unpaid intern. You can listen to Septembre and my interview with CBC here.
A legal internship is not free labour for an employer. It should not replace a real job. It is intended to be a training experience for a young worker. With the risk of being blacklisted by employers, however, most workers are reluctant to speak up.
My bill, Bill 170, is helping to raise awareness about the proliferation of unpaid and often illegal internships in Ontario. You can read the coverage here:
- Toronto Star: Unpaid Interns: MPP Calls For New Protections by Zoe McKnight
- Huffington Post Canada: What Every Employer Needs to Know Before Hiring an Intern by Janice Rubin
- Inside Toronto: Davenport MPP Introduces Private Member’s Bill to Make Changes to Unpaid Internships by Parkdale Villager
- Here and Now CBC Morning Show: Unpaid Internship with Helen Mann
- The Ryersonian: MPP Jonah Schein Proposes New Intern Legislation by Dana Roberts
- The Varsity: Bill Regulating Unpaid Internships Passes First Reading at Queen’s Park by Michael Chahley
If passed, Bill 170 will give interns greater protections under the law.
It will entitle them to basic rights under the Employment Standards Act, like a regular work day, eating periods and holidays. It also gives them protection from reprisal and rights to file a complaint with the Ministry of Labour and request a review by the Board. My bill will help clarify the conditions of a legal internship for employees and employers alike. And it will require the Ministry of Labour to establish an anonymous, third party complaint system, to collect data on unpaid internships, and to create an intern bill of rights poster that employers would be required to post in all workplaces.
Too many young workers are being left behind. We need concrete action to enforce the law and protect young workers. Bill 170 provides concrete, achievable ways we can start to address this issue in our Province.