TORONTO, Dec. 4, 2013 /CNW/ - The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance
(OUSA) is supportive of the provincial government's announcement of the
Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act that would extend extend
greater workplace protections to university students participating in
for-credit, unpaid co-op placements via changes to Ontario's
Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
"Co-op students are deserving of the same protections as other employees
in Ontario," said Amir Eftekarpour, OUSA President and Vice-President
External of the University Students' Council of Western University.
"Currently, students participating in unpaid co-ops through an Ontario
university are not covered under the OHSA because the Act defines a
worker as an individual who performs work or supplies services for
Recent data compiled from university multi-year accountability agreement
report backs show that in 2011-2012 there were approximately 41,000
co-op students in Ontario. In OUSA's 2011 Ontario Post-Secondary
Student Survey, 45 per cent of student respondents identified that they
would be participating in a for-credit co-op or work-study placements
over the course of their degrees.
"The Ministry of Labour's proposed changes to the OHSA will ensure that
Ontario's co-op students are entitled to the right to be informed of
hazards in their work environments, the right to representation on
health and safety committees, and the right to refuse unsafe work,'
Although students are pleased to see that progress is being made to
extend co-op students protections under the OHSA, students remain
concerned about the lack of protections for students in work
experiences provided through a post-secondary institution, and the
Ministry's enforcement of Ontario's Employment Standards Act (ESA) for
postgraduate unpaid internships. In his announcement of the Stronger
Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, Minister of Labour Yasir Naqvi
stated that he would be bringing together stakeholders to develop
strategies for increasing awareness of and improving enforcement of the
ESA. OUSA called for greater enforcement and promotion of the ESA in
its September government submission, Youth Employment: Re-imagining the link between labour and learning.
"Estimates of the number of unpaid internships in Canada range from
100,000 to 300,000 positions," said Allison Williams, OUSA Steering
Committee Member and Academic Affairs Commissioner of the Alma Mater
Society of Queen's University. "Students firmly believe that any
individual who performs work should receive compensation. Poor
enforcement of the ESA has meant that many graduates in Ontario are
engaged in illegal unpaid internships that deny them wages, fair
working hours, and overtime and holiday compensation."
About the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA)
OUSA represents the interests of over 140,000 professional and
undergraduate, full- and part-time university students at eight member
associations across Ontario.
SOURCE: Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance
For further information:
For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact Brandon Sloan, Director of Communications.
T: (416) 605-1345