Unpaid internships are a serious blight on the youth labour market in Ontario. These positions erode entry level jobs in organizations, contribute to rising youth unemployment, get worked into business models thereby institutionalizing the practice of precarious unpaid labour, and make the school to work transition extremely difficult for young people. With those thoughts in mind it's come to my attention that the 2015 Toronto Pan/Parapan America Games committee is recruiting for illegal internship positions for the summer of 2012.
Check out this job description for an "Intern Volunteer" role (backup link) in the Pan Am Games' Communications and Public Relations department. What makes the position most likely a violation of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 ("the ESA") is the wording on the provision of a stipend. The job posting says that the intern will be given $30.00 per day, but they have to work forty hours per week. Any way you analyze those numbers it doesn't come out to the Ontario's minimum wage, which is normally $10.25 per hour. This a prima facie breach of the sixth part of test enumerated under s. 1(2) of the ESA, it reads "The individual is advised that he or she will receive no remuneration for the time that he or she spends in training." The language in the job description speaking to criteria that the applicant has to be a post-secondary student and undergoing practical training appears to be obfuscation aimed at justifying the misclassification of the employe.
This seems like the classic unpaid internship scam to me. The Pan Am Games isn't paying the minimum wage under the ESA and there's a probable misclassification of the employee as an intern to avoid meeting the obligations under the ESA. What's most troubling about this situation is that 2015 Toronto Pan/Parapan American Games is essentially an operation run and funded by the Government of Ontario, replete with its own Cabinet Minister (Charles Sousa, ex-Minister of Labour) and the Ontario Pan Am Games Secretariat. Why the government can't afford to pay young people the statutory minimum wage is beyond me and points to how pervasive the problem of unpaid internships have become in Ontario's labour market.
I'll give an update if I hear about any developments on this story. For some of my previous articles on the rise of unpaid internships, see: here, here, and here. Also, if you've previously been an intern with the Pan Am Games in Toronto I'd love to hear from you, I can be reached here. (Update: Elissa Freeman, the Vice President of Communication and Public Relations, tweeted at me: "@youthandwork happy to address your concerns. We will be in touch on Monday.")