New rights for co-op students good first step

TORONTO, Dec. 4, 2013 /CNW/ - Students are encouraged by legislation being tabled today by the Minister of Labour, Yasir Naqvi, that will extend occupational health and safety protections to students in unpaid work terms.

"This is a good first step towards ensuring young workers and students have access to basic labour rights," said Alastair Woods, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. "The right to refuse unsafe work is an important part of improving the working and learning conditions of students doing unpaid work placements."

The Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act includes legislative changes to include students working in unpaid co-op programs or work placements as part of a diploma or degree program under the Occupational Healthy and Safety Act.

Currently, students doing work placements as part of a college or university program are also exempt from the Employment Standards Act. As a result, thousands of students are doing unpaid work in order to get a diploma or degree, including students in teaching, nursing and other health programs, social work and community work, hospitality, and a wide array of other disciplines.

"Students know that work is work, regardless of whether or not you receive school credit," said Woods. "The Liberal government needs to work towards eliminating unpaid internships, work placements and co-ops across the province."

The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario is the province's largest student organization, representing more than 300,000 college and university students at 38 students' unions in all regions of the province.

SOURCE Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario

For further information:

Alastair Woods, Chairperson: (647) 378-8942 (cell) or chairperson@cfsontario.ca

Kaley Kennedy, Communications Coordinator: (647) 302-3891 (cell) or communications@cfsontario.ca