Que­bec Stu­dents protest Un­paid In­tern­ships

Montreal Times - - News -

Close to 58,000 CEGEP and Uni­ver­sity stu­dents across the prov­ince boy­cotted their un­paid in­tern­ships and took to the streets in protest this week. Many of them, who are work­ing in fields such as nurs­ing, oc­cu­pa­tional ther­apy, ed­u­ca­tion and so­cial work, claim the work they are do­ing is the same as the work be­ing done by reg­u­lar em­ploy­ees - and it is un­fair. In fact, they feel they are be­ing ex­ploited and no­tably the ma­jor­ity of those in­tern­ships are held by women.

There is no pro­tec­tion for them be­cause stu­dent in­tern­ships are not con­sid­ered work and there­fore not reg­u­lated un­der Que­bec's labour laws. They are of­ten left over­worked, un­pro­tected and un­paid.Yet in­tern­ships in some ar­eas such as en­gi­neer­ing and com­puter science are of­ten paid.

The Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the Cana­dian In­tern As­so­ci­a­tion, William Webb, was cited as say­ing in a Globe and Mail re­port, 'the is­sue is a prob­lem across Canada. Un­paid in­tern­ships ef­fec­tively favour stu­dents from bet­ter-off fam­i­lies who can af­ford to work for no wages. Stu­dents pay uni­ver­sity tu­ition... you’re pay­ing the ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tion for the priv­i­lege to work for free.' Many stu­dents hold down more than one part-time job, in be­tween at­tend­ing classes and do­ing their in­tern­ships, of which they re­quire to at­tain their de­grees. They strug­gle just to keep their heads up and on top of all that they are barely mak­ing ends meet.

In a state­ment, CAQ Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter JeanFran­cois Roberge said he was 'aware of the sit­u­a­tion and the wor­ries stu­dents have over com­pen­sa­tion for in­tern­ships. I will meet with stu­dents, schools and in­tern­ship providers to find so­lu­tions that will sat­isfy all par­ties.' Let it be noted that when the CAQ was the op­po­si­tion party in the Na­tional Assem­bly, they sup­ported pay­ing for teach­ing and psy­chol­ogy in­tern­ships. As Que­be­cers know well, stu­dent protests in this prov­ince are to be taken se­ri­ously.Who doesn't re­mem­ber the 'Maple Spring' protests back in 2012 over a pro­posed 75% hike in the cost of tu­ition? And now in 2018, a lit­tle over six years later, the stu­dent or­ga­niz­ers be­hind the 'Un­paid In­tern­ship' protests have al­ready an­nounced they will be­gin a gen­eral, un­lim­ited strike in Jan­uary 2019 if their needs and de­mands are not met. Could there be a re­peat of the 'Casse­role' marches, with pots and pans be­ing banged loudly through the streets and neigh­bour­hoods of Mon­treal? Or will the CAQ 'walk their talk' and come through for them?

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