Canada: Unfair Internships are illegal there too

The Globe and Mail, a national Canadian newspaper, has an article about unpaid internships with interesting comparisons with the United States.

While most internships in Canada have traditionally been paid, tightening budgets and hiring freezes may mean some stipends for internships may soon disappear, says Bill Weber, Toronto-based head of human resources for Drake International. It’s one step away from what is already happening in the United States, where competition for jobs is even more ferocious – so much so that some eager interns are actually forking over thousands of dollars to pay for the privilege of an internship position.

It illustrates well where the road to unfair internships leads: more unfair internships. No wonder it’s illegal.

The editor of the Toronto edition of Metro, a free newspaper (based in Sweden, of all places), tells the world that it is about to break the law.

Earlier this month, the company’s Toronto office laid off four unionized reporters and columnists, saying it will instead use paid freelancers and wire copy for content, and its unpaid interns for copy-editing functions.

A Canadian lawyer recommends to employers to sign a contract with the intern:

A clear statement that the intern is not an employee and will not receive any remuneration.

Details of the training the intern will receive, how long it will last and how it benefits the intern.

Explicitly state that the internship brings with it no possibility of an offer of employment.

What the level of supervision will be and who will provide it.

Whether the intern’s performance will be reviewed and how.

An ability for the employer to end the internship and how it would be done.

The message remains the same: interns are not free labor.


8 Responses to Canada: Unfair Internships are illegal there too

  1. iWoo says:

    Do you have a reference that actually states that Canadian unpaid “internships” that benefit the company with little to no real training are illegal?

    The Globecampus article you quote (which you didn’t link to:) –doesn’t seem to ever state what your headline claims, and the tone of the article is contrary to this specific post.

    However, if someone wanted to bring the legality of an internship up with a Canadian company, do they actually have any legal ground to stand on like the American Fair Labor Standards Act?

  2. exintern says:

    Thanks for the link. It was an oversight on my part. It probably was published in the Globe and Mail originally, but this version in their subsidiary looks identical.

    My headline was referring to the other Globe article where they quote a lawyer recommending to sign a contract with conditions very similar to those of the FLSA.

    Labor law in Canada is mostly a provincial jurisdiction. You can start from the federal website ( which links to all provinces’ labor websites. I did some research myself and found an example of a car dealership that was forced to pay its intern, even though he had accepted the unpaid position.

    Please come back and share the outcome of your research and I’ll be happy to blog about it and add it to the Resources page.

  3. Steve bohnn says:

    Get your facts straight. First of all unpaid internsjips are nor illegal. If a student from Vfs or another film school is doing a 5 minute short film and if they need a crew how are they able to afford to pay anyone? They can’t. I always volunteer my time on student films as it helps them to get their foot in the door. Also for someone who is not a student making a feature film without a lot of money how can u pay people if you gave 20-30 crew members and you had to pay them you would go broke. Do unpaid film gigs for the love if the business.

  4. exintern says:

    Thanks for engaging, Steve. You may have read the post a little quickly, but that happens. The title is “unfair internships are illegal”, not “unpaid internships”. Nowhere on this blog do we say “all unpaid internships are illegal”.

  5. Reaer says:

    But the heading in your craigslist post states “Unpaid…” A little missleading at best.

    • exintern says:

      I do not have a craigslist posting.

      Someone else did post something under the title “Are unpaid internships legal?” and the answer is: sometimes not. I have always been very careful not to paint all unpaid internships as illegal.

  6. Internship says:

    Students who are still studying get the option to work, prove their talent and gather experience at the same time. “Internship after college was very difficult and dreadful, this is what my seniors told me. But, youth4work changed it all; I got my internship while I was studying. All thanks to youth4work”

  7. […] job to gain the experience required) can choose to volunteer their services for free, a practice of dubious legality and harrowing consequences for grads who’s lives require payments of rent and purchasing of food. […]

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