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Bell accused of breaking labour law with unpaid interns

Toronto lawyer Andrew Langille has studied the laws regarding internships and has helped interns with claims against several Canadian companies.

Overall, he estimates up to 300,000 young people are now working as unpaid interns in Canada. He suggests the vast majority of those arrangements are illegal.

Lawyer Andrew Langille has studied the growing phenomenon of unpaid internships in Canada. He believes 90 per cent of young people currently working for free should be paid, by law.Lawyer Andrew Langille has studied the growing phenomenon of unpaid internships in Canada. He believes 90 per cent of young people currently working for free should be paid, by law. (CBC)

“My estimates are somewhere above 90 per cent should be paid and they are not being paid,” said Langille.

In Ontario, provincially regulated employers (not telecoms) have to meet six conditions to justify not paying an intern, including giving training that benefits the intern and reaping no benefit from the work the intern does. However, Langille said, many companies now flout those rules.

“We’ve seen explosive growth within intern culture in the last 10 years in Canada and particularly in the wake of the global financial crisis,” he said.

“Employers decided to use the poor economic conditions and the poor labour market as a carte blanche to begin replacing paid employees with unpaid ones.”

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