Student files complaint about unpaid internship in MPP office

TORONTO, Sept. 10, 2013 /CNW/ - This morning, a student at Laurentian University - Barrie Campus submitted a complaint to the Ministry of Labour about an unpaid internship being offered in the office of Barrie Member of Provincial Parliament Rod Jackson.

Samantha Bokma was employed in the constituency office of MPP Jackson until August, when her supervisor verbally informed her that her contract would not be renewed past its August 30, 2013 end date. On August 29, MPP Jackson's office released a posting for an unpaid internship fulfilling the duties Bokma had previously performed.

"Students and other young people should have the right to be paid fairly for their work. Instead, young people are faced with few job prospects and an abundance of unpaid internships," said Bokma. "Personally, I had to forgo signing a lease on an apartment because I simply can't pay for tuition fees, rent and groceries with a single part-time job."

Certain provisions permit employers to have unpaid interns in their workplace for training purposes or as part of an approved program in a college or university. Unpaid internships are not, however, intended to replace paid employment in a workplace.

"High youth employment this summer, coupled with Ontario's high tuition fees, has put many students in a difficult financial position this September. Shifting paid, part-time and entry level employment to unpaid internships deprives young workers of wages they deserve," said Alastair Woods, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. "We hope the Ministry of Labour will take this information seriously and ensure this situation is thoroughly investigated."

In August, the unemployment rate for returning students in Ontario was 19 per cent, compared to the general unemployment rate of 7 per cent.

The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario represents more than 300,000 college, undergraduate and graduate students in all regions of the province.

SOURCE: Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario

For further information:

Kaley Kennedy, Communications and Government Relations Coordinator: 647-302-3891 (cell)

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