For the first time in over 20 years, the Province of Ontario has commissioned an independent report to review both the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act.
The use of unpaid interns has come under increased media and political scrutiny. Fuelled by horror stories of young interns collapsing under extreme workplace pressures, the issue reached the political agenda. In the summer of 2014, the Ontario Ministry of Labour carried out a highly publicized workplace inspection blitz to determine if intern rights were being respected. Rules governing the appropriate use of interns in Ontario are not new. They had been in place long before the summer 2014 blitz. The rules are set out in section 1(2) of the Employment Standards Act.
On April 3, 2014, the Ontario Ministry of Labour announced the focus of its 2014-15 Employment Standards Act (ESA) inspection blitzes. A “blitz” occurs when the Ministry of Labour (MOL) decides to have its employment standards officers target industries that have a history of employment standards violations or industries that employ vulnerable workers in order to ensure compliance with the ESA.