Most students want to be paid for internships; poll finds

by | Oct 13, 2017 | Life

Fox Johnson
News Reporter

Students from Humber College weighed in on how they feel about not being paid for time spent at internships coordinated by the school.

They say they want to be paid.

Two unscientific polls by Et Cetera conducted from Sept. 8 to Sept. 11 show that of 80 respondents, 71 say they should be paid and only nine feel they shouldn’t.

Megan Mapley, a second-year Recreation and Leisure Services student, is one of the nine.

“The company taking the time to teach people and give them practical experience is the reason programs have internships,” Mapley said. “Having that opportunity to learn first hand is an award in itself.”

But for fourth year nursing student Jaime Taylor, the award isn’t worth the chase. Not only does her placement require her to work full-time as a registered nurse, she also works part-time.

“Why am I paying full tuition to work for free?” Taylor asked. “That doesn’t seem right to me.”

The Humber website says that for two terms of nursing program, the cost is $7,633.92 or $3,816.96 per term.
Another nursing program, practical nursing, is two years long and has students working 40 hours a week in unpaid placements to reach the program’s expected 1,035 hours of participation.

Stephanie Kratz, an internship coordinator for the Humber College School of Hospitality, Recreation and Tourism, said an internship is for students to get real world experience, practice professionalism, network with veterans of their industry and more. She also noted they offer both paid and unpaid internships.

Taijean Moodie, a first-year mechanical engineering student, shares Kratz’s opinion that internships are an opportunity for students to get real world experience.

“When we’re in college or university, it’s all paperwork and you’re not getting the real life experience,” Moodie said. “You don’t get to use those skills that you learned until you’re actually out in the world.”

Meanwhile, Kevin Andal, a first-year game programming student, agrees with Moodie that internships should be paid to help offset tuition fees.

“When we’re working there, we’re spending time there, but if we’re not getting paid it might throw off some people,” Andal said.

Interns are entitled to protections under the provincial government’s Employment Standards Act, including the minimum wage. But there are six conditions found on the Ontario Ministry of Labour website, the employer can avoid paying interns.

One member of the Ontario government hopes to change that.

Jagmeet Singh, MPP for Bramalea-Gore-Malton since 2011 and one of four candidates vying for the leadership of the New Democratic Party (NDP), is the only candidate with a promise to end unpaid internships in his policy.

“Jagmeet believes all work should be fairly compensated and this is why his very first policy in this campaign included a provision to ban all unpaid internships,” reads an e-mail from his media team.

Current NDP leader Thomas Mulcair made a similar promise in 2015 when he was a prime ministerial candidate.