There are few laws in Canada defining or regulating internships directly.  Each province has its own employment standards legislation, regulations and/or guidelines that may apply to interns.

Please note: this page summarizes sections of provincial websites and legislation, and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

ONTARIO

Ontario’s Employment Standards Act states that all employees must be paid at least the Ontario minimum wage ($10.25 per hour for most employees).  An “employee” includes a person who receives training from an employer.  A person is not considered an employee if these six conditions are met:

  1. The training is similar to that which is given in a vocational school
  2. The training is for the benefit of the individual
  3. The person providing the training derives little, if any, benefit from the activity of the individual while he or she is being trained
  4. The individual does not displace employees of the person providing the training
  5. The individual is not accorded a right to become an employee of the person providing the training
  6. The individual is advised that he or she will receive no remuneration for the time that he or she spends in training

BRITISH COLUMBIA

BC’s Employment Standards Act states all employees must be paid at least the BC minimum wage ($10.25 per hour for most employees).  An “employee” is a person receiving or entitled to wages for work performed for another, who was hired and receives training from an employer.  ”Work” is defined as labour or services an employee performs for an employer whether in the employee’s residence or elsewhere.

According to the Interpretation Guidelines Manual, an “internship” may be considered “work” and therefore is subject to the minimum wage. An internship is defined as follows:

“An “internship” is on-the-job training offered by an employer to provide a person with practical experience. Often internships are offered to persons who have completed a diploma or degree program and are seeking employment. Completing an internship does not itself result in an academic certificate or diploma. If the duties performed by interns fall within the definition of  “work” contained in the Act, the intern falls within the definition of “employee”, and the agency using the services of an intern falls within the definition of “employer”, internships will be considered “work” for the purposes of the Act.”

BC has distinguished an “internship” from a “practicum.” A practicum is “hands-on” training that is part of a formal education process and done for school credit.  A practicum is not considered “work” and therefore not subject to the minimum wage.

QUEBEC

Quebec’s An Act Respecting Labour Standards and accompanying regulations list three circumstances where minimum wage is not required and unpaid internships are legal:

  1. unpaid internships that are part of a program provided by an approved educational institution
  2. unpaid internships where the intern is a student working for a not for profit organization with social or community purposes
  3. unpaid internships that are part of a programme of vocational training

Unless the unpaid intern (called stagiaire in French) falls within one of these circumstances, he or she is entitled to minimum wage.

 

ALBERTA

Alberta’s Employment Standards Code provides for a minimum wage of $9.40 for most employees (Reg 14/97).  An “employee” is an individual employed to do work who receives or is entitled to wages.  It is unclear what “entitled to wages” means and therefore unclear whether interns in Alberta should receive a minimum wage.

MANITOBA

Manitoba’s Employment Standards Code states that employees must be paid the minimum wage of $10 per hour, subject to some exceptions.  An “employee” is defined as “an individual who is employed by an employer to do work.”  ”Work” is defined as “skilled or unskilled manual, clerical, domestic, professional or technical labour performed or services provided by an employee.”  In Manitoba, it appears that any intern is entitled to the minimum wage.

SASKATCHEWAN

Saskatchewan’s Labour Standards Act provides for a minimum of wage of $9.50 for most employees.  An “employee” is defined as someone who receives or is entitled to remuneration for labour or services performed for an employer.  It is unclear what “entitled to remuneration” means and therefore unclear whether interns should receive a minimum wage.

NEW BRUNSWICK

New Brunswick’s Employment Standards Act provides for a minimum wage of $10,00 for most employees (Reg. 2011-54).  An “employee” is defined as a person who performs work or supplies services to an employer for wages.  It is unclear whether unpaid interns are entitled to the minimum wage in New Brunswick.

NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR

Newfoundland & Labrador’s Labour Standards Act provides for a minimum wage of $10,00 for most employees.  An “employee” is defined as a person who works under a contract of service for an employer.  This definition of employee is sufficiently broad to include unpaid interns, meanings that all interns in Newfoundland & Labrador are entitled to minimum wage.

NOVA SCOTIA

Nova Scotia’s Labour Standards Code provides for a minimum wage is $10.15 for most employees.  An “employee” is defined as a person employed to do work.  Based on this broad definition, it appears that an unpaid intern would be entitled to minimum wage in Nova Scotia.

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

PEI’s Employment Standards Act provides for a minimum wage of $10 for most employees (Reg EC139/96).  An “employee” is a person who performs any work for or supplies any services for an employer for pay, and includes “a person who is being trained by an employer to form work for or supply services to the employer.”  It is unclear whether unpaid interns are entitled to the minimum wage in PEI.