Order Fixing September 1, 2020 as the Day on Which Certain Sections of that Act Come into Force: SI/2020-49
Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 154, Number 14
SI/2020-49 July 8, 2020
ECONOMIC ACTION PLAN 2015 ACT, NO. 1
Order Fixing September 1, 2020 as the Day on Which Certain Sections of that Act Come into Force
P.C. 2020-500 June 25, 2020
Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Labour, pursuant to section 93 of the Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1, chapter 36 of the Statutes of Canada, 2015, fixes September 1, 2020 as the day on which sections 88 to 92 of that Act come into force.
(This note is not part of the Order.)
To fix September 1, 2020, as the date on which sections 88 to 92 of the Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1, as amended by sections 217 and 218 of the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2, come into force.
To fulfill the Government’s objective to limit unpaid internships in the federally regulated private sector to those that are part of a formal educational program, and to ensure that unpaid interns who are part of an educational program are entitled to labour standards protections, such as maximum hours of work, weekly days of rest and general holidays.
The Canada Labour Code (the Code) is an Act of Parliament that regulates industrial relations (under Part I), occupational health and safety (under Part II) and labour standards (under Part III), in industries that fall within the federal jurisdiction.
Enacted in 1965, Part III of the Code aims to support fair and equitable work places by setting minimum labour standards that employers must comply with. Part III establishes employment conditions such as hours of work, payment of wages, overtime pay, general holidays, protected leaves of absence and rights regarding the termination of employment. This part applies to the federally regulated private sector, including
- Interprovincial and international transportation;
- Telecommunications and broadcasting;
- Grain handling;
- Uranium mining and processing, and atomic energy;
- First Nations Band Councils;
- Certain Modern Treaty areas; and
- Federal Crown Corporations.
The provinces and territories have the jurisdiction to enact labour and employment legislation for all other industries that operate within their borders, such as manufacturing firms, restaurants and retail stores, and construction companies.
Although it has become increasingly common over the past decade for Canadians to rely on unpaid internships to begin their careers, until recently Part III of the Code did not expressly extend labour standards entitlements to these individuals. This perceived gap in coverage has been a concern for many stakeholders, who view internships, especially those that are unpaid, as exploitive of individuals and misused by employers as a way of cutting costs by replacing entry-level positions. A 2015 Federal Workplaces Jurisdiction Survey revealed that there were 10 849 paid interns and 2 346 unpaid interns in the federally regulated private sector.
Amendments extending certain protections under Part II and Part III of the Code to interns in federally regulated workplaces were initially included in the Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1, which received royal assent on April 23, 2015. The amendments to Part II provided that any person who is not an employee, but who performs activities whose primary purpose is to enable the person to acquire knowledge or experience (i.e. “interns”), would receive the same occupational health and safety protections under Part II of the Code as employees. These changes came into force on September 14, 2015.
Before the Part III amendments were brought into force, it was necessary to create supporting regulations; however, during regulatory consultations in January 2016, many stakeholders expressed strong opposition to the new legislation. Consequently, a decision was made to put the development of the regulations on hold in order to review the legislation.
The following year, in the 2017 federal Budget, the Government announced its commitment to limit unpaid internships in the federally regulated private sector such that only internships that are part of an educational program could be unpaid. This commitment was reflected in new amendments that appeared in the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2, which received royal assent in December 2017. Subsequently, the regulatory development process was resumed.
The amendments to Part III of the Code included in this Order in Council will afford interns and student interns protections under the Code:
- Interns who are undertaking a placement with an employer that is unrelated to fulfilling educational requirements will be treated as employees and will therefore be covered by all labour standards protections, which include the right to be paid at least the minimum wage. In practice, these may include recent graduates, individuals undergoing a career change or students who are not completing the placement to fulfill a requirement of their educational program.
- Student interns are undertaking a work-integrated learning placement with an employer to fulfill the requirements of an educational program at a secondary or post-secondary institution, vocational school, or equivalent educational institution outside Canada. Student interns may be unpaid, but will be entitled to certain labour standards protections that are prescribed in regulation.
The legislative amendments to Part III of the Code are expected to reduce the number of unpaid interns in the federally regulated private sector.
The Regulations required in order for the new legislation to be implemented, the Standards for Work-integrated Learning Activities Regulations (the Regulations), are included in this Order in Council submission. The Regulations clarify when an internship can be unpaid by establishing the educational institutions at which the student may be fulfilling the program requirements through the internship, the documentation required prior to the commencement of an internship, outline the Part III protections that apply to student interns and include the related administrative requirements.
To mitigate confusion that may arise between the two categories of interns and their respective labour standards protections, communications and educational materials will clarify the protections to which each group of interns is entitled.
Before the development of the original legislation, bilateral meetings and roundtable discussions with key stakeholders took place in January 2015. Generally, stakeholders indicated that internships provide value, that interns should be afforded labour standards protections, and that the government should provide greater clarity on the issue. At this time, there was general agreement among participants that unpaid internships should be permitted if they are part of an educational program.
After the Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 received royal assent, regulatory consultations were held in summer 2015 and January 2016, but the regulatory process was put on hold and the legislation was reviewed and amended. Regulatory consultations resumed in September 2018. A draft of the Standards for Work-integrated Learning Activities Regulations was prepublished in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on June 8, 2019, with a 30-day comment period.
Labour Standards and Wage Earner Protection Program
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