Students at the Université de Moncton have launched a campaign aimed at getting the New Brunswick government to address the issue of unpaid internships in the province.
The campaign was launched by the students council at UdeM. Titled “Mon Stage me Ruine” or “my internship is ruining me,” the goal is to get the government to recognize the issue.
“We’re trying to bring this issue to the population of N.B. and to get the government to do something because most of those internships are in the government,” said Tristan Gaudet, president of the UdeM association.
According to Statistics Canada, students in New Brunswick are the most indebted in the country, accumulating on average, about a $35,000 debt to get a bachelor’s degree.
Veronique Cormier just graduated form the Université de Moncton. Through her four-year nursing course, she’s had to do a dozen clinicals –or internships – at local hospitals.
“They usually recommend for us to take the placement where we do want to work so it definitely helps us to get a job afterwards,” Cormier said.
But getting that job, comes at a price. Above having to pay tuition, books and other costs associated with getting a degree, Cormier said some nursing students doing an unpaid internship have to pay for things like vaccinations, stethoscope, scrubs, and daily parking, out of their pocket.
“For the four years, it comes to about 25 hundred dollars,” she said.
Lawyers representing the Canadian Intern Association say the government needs to do more to help lower that debt load.
“They could set up a system of grants, you could mandate a minimum wage, a minimum stipend linked to the hours worked.”
Gaudet said that’s what they’re looking for and they also want to address some of the university’s policies, that they deem unfair, when it comes to internships.
“In some programs they’re not allowing the students to get paid, so even if where they’re doing their internships offers to pay them, the university is not allowing them to receive a payment, and that’s problematic,” Gaudet said.
The student union plans on running this campaign until the next provincial election, unless an agreement can be reached beforehand.