Canadian Intern Association holds first Vancouver meeting

The Canadian Intern Association is holding its first Vancouver meeting tonight at the Firehall Branch of the public library.

The Association was founded last year by University of Ottawa law student Claire Seaborn, who noticed a dearth of advocacy groups to address the growing problem of illegal unpaid internships. Over the past year, the group has launched a Claim Back Your Pay campaign for former unpaid interns and Wall of Fame and Shame campaigns to draw attention to companies offering internships — both good and bad. The latter campaign has seen significant success.

“Of the companies that we shame publicly, 50% of them come back and say ‘okay, we will pay our interns.’ Or ‘we will comply with the employment standards of [our] province.’ So that’s been really positive,” Seaborn told Story Board during a phone interview this week.

Seaborn says the internship issue has received a surprising amount of attention since the association’s inception in May of 2012.

“There’s absolutely been a huge change in awareness. I’ve been really surprised and impressed by how much the media has focused on this issue over the past year,” she said.

“My hope is that the discussion is going to turn into a true reduction in unpaid internships and an increase in pay. Obviously we don’t have any statistics to track that. But another thing I’ll say is that we’ve been able to recruit a lot of political interest over the past year, more than I would have imagined.”

NDP MP Andrew Cash and Liberal MP Scott Brison have both spent time advocating for fair and legal internship practices in recent months. Brison, who is pushing for Statistics Canada to start tracking unpaid internships, also drew in Liberal leader Justin Trudeau earlier this summer for a roundtable discussion on youth unemployment.

Tonight’s Canadian Intern Association event will introduce interested Vancouverites to the association’s recent projects and future plans. But Seaborn doesn’t expect a lot of heavy lifting to happen during this inaugural Vancouver meeting.

“This meeting is mainly to connect a lot of interested parties,” she said.

“I’m really just hoping to hear about what people are interested in learning about and contributing. It’s going to be fairly open. It’s more about making connections for work that could happen in the future.”

Tonight’s meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. and is open to anyone who is interested in attending. More details about the event can be found here.


Posted on August 28, 2013 at 9:03 am by editor · · Tagged with: , , , ,

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