NDP MPP continues fight to create work opportunities and prevent unpaid internships

QUEEN’S PARK -- Peggy Sattler, NDP Critic for Training, Colleges & Universities and MPP for London West, today called on the Liberal government to expand postsecondary co-ops and other paid work experience programs at Ontario colleges and universities, and put an end to exploitative unpaid internships. 

Sattler was joined by Claire Seaborn of the Canadian Intern Association, Peggy Jarvie of the University of Waterloo, and Naguib Gouda of Career Edge, who were at Queen’s Park to support her Private Member’s Bill, the Protecting Interns and Creating a Learning Economy Act, scheduled for second reading today in the legislature.

“Youth unemployment in Ontario is more than double the provincial average, and increasing numbers of students are graduating with no work experience at all,” said Sattler. “Without experience, it’s hard to get a job, and without a job, it’s hard to get experience. Too many young people feel they have no other choice than to work for free after they graduate – in illegal unpaid internships.” 

Sattler’s bill will expand programs such as co-ops, internships, field placements, and others, enabling Ontario college and university students to gain career-related work experience while they are studying. It will also strengthen oversight of these programs to ensure they provide high-quality learning opportunities for students.

With an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 people working in unpaid internships in Canada, the bill will help prevent the exploitation of unpaid interns by increasing employer awareness of their obligations under the Employment Standards Act and extending basic workplace protections to all students and trainees. 

The Protecting Interns and Creating a Learning Economy Act has secured the endorsement of organizations representing employers, college and university students, and postsecondary institutions.