Labour code violations close internship programs at Walrus, Toronto Life

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Photo: flickr/Elvert Barnes

Two well-known Canadian magazines, Toronto Life and The Walrus, have shut down their internship programs after the Ontario Ministry of Labour informed them that the programs did not meet the Employment Standards Act.

The Ministry has begun to crack down on unpaid magazine internships.

Late Wednesday, news began to leak out on social media that internship programs were closing. This was confirmed by The Globe and Mail report published Thursday. According to the report, the Ministry of Labour will be investigating the magazine industry as a whole starting April 1.

Magazine industry blog Canadian Magazines broke the news that Toronto Life magazine editors chose to end their internship program after officials told them that they did not meet the requirements laid out in the Employment Standards Act.

Under the Act, interns must be receiving an educational benefit from their employment or take part in the internship as part of an educational program. However, criticisms have arisen in the last few years that employers are using unpaid internships as a source of free labour. Interns often perform work that would normally be given to entry-level employees.

According to the Canadian Magazines post, two of the seven interns at Toronto Life will stay on, as they are enrolled in educational programs.

On Thursday, national general interest magazine The Walrus also confirmed it was ending its internship program. Their call for internships now has the following statement:

The Liberal Government of Ontario's Ministry of Labour has closed the internship program at the Walrus Foundation. The Ministry of Labour employment standards act inspector has said our four-to-six-month unpaid internships can no longer be offered unless the interns have a formal agreement for a work experience with a vocational school. We have been training future leaders in media and development for ten years, and we are extremely sorry we are no longer able to provide these opportunities, which have assisted many young Ontarians -- and Canadians -- in bridging the gap from university to paid work and in, many cases, on to stellar careers.

St. Joseph's Media, which owns Toronto Life along with a number of other magazines, also confirmed to The Globe and Mail that they will be eliminating about 20-30 internships company wide.

Photo: flickr/Elvert Barnes

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