CWA Canada Votes to Protect Interns

by Kayla Perry

At CWA Canada’s National Representative Council (NRC) meeting on April 17, voting members unanimously agreed to endorse two documents, both of which aim to protect media interns in the workplace.

The first document presented to the NRC by the CWA Canada Associate Member Steering Committee was a policy statement on the equitable use of interns. This document states that all interns should receive compensation, with the exception of students from an accredited post-secondary educational institutions on a short-term educational placement, and that equitable terms of employment should be outlined in the collective agreement.

The policy also states that CWA Canada has a role to play in advocating for employers to compensate students, and outlines that all interns must receive a signed contract outlining the responsibilities of the intern and employer, avenues of recourse for the intern, the length of the contract, the hours of work, and the requirement of regular feedback and mentoring.

CWA Canada Associate Members—a form of union membership for student, volunteer and precarious media workers—developed this policy out of concern that unpaid internships are making careers in the media inaccessible to people from historically-marginalized communities, place young people further at risk of harassment and unsafe work conditions, and teach emerging media workers not to value their labour.

The second document endorsed by the NRC was MP Lauren Liu’s private member’s bill, the Intern Protection Act (Bill C-636). This bill addresses the ongoing lack of workplace protections for interns in federally regulated industries, under the Canada Labour Code. The bill would extend employment standards, such as hours of work, health and safety, and public holidays, to all interns, paid and unpaid. The bill was debated at second reading in the House on Monday.

CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon said the new policies will help interns by raising awareness about their wages and working conditions and by putting pressure on employers to act decently.

“This is simply a matter of treating interns fairly.” O’Hanlon said. “No one should be forced to work for free or be taken advantage of just because they are young. A decent employer should treat interns decently.”

The annual meeting took place in Ottawa, and was attended by CWA Canada representatives from across Canada.

In advance of the House’s vote on Wednesday, please sign the petition in support of Bill C-636.

To get involved in the campaign to support emerging media workers, contact Katherine Lapointe, CWA Canada Associate Member Organizer: or 416-795-8598.


Posted on April 24, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · · Tagged with: , ,

Leave a Reply