Ontario Newsroom

Ontario Recovers Thousands of Dollars Owed to Interns

Archived News Release

Ontario Recovers Thousands of Dollars Owed to Interns

Province Committed to Protecting Unpaid Interns

Recently Ontario recovered nearly $140,000 in wages owed to interns at workplaces across the province.

From September 1 to December 31, 2015, Ministry of Labour employment standards officers visited 123 workplaces believed to have internship programs and investigated whether interns were entitled to minimum wage and other employment standards such as public holidays and vacation.

Out of the 77 workplaces that had interns:

  • 18 employers (almost 25 per cent) did not meet the requirements under the Employment Standards Act (ESA)
  • 18 employers (almost 25 per cent) had paid interns and were in compliance with the ESA
  • 41 employers (more than 50 per cent) were found to have intern programs that were exempt from the ESA
The blitz found $140,630 in wages that were owed to interns, and since that time a total of $138,731 has been recovered. This includes:
  • $85,968 in owed wages voluntarily paid by 13 employers
  • $52,763 in owed wages recovered by the ministry through orders issued to four employers
Under the ESA, there are limited circumstances when a person can work as an intern for no pay. For instance, employers usually do not have to pay interns who perform work under secondary school co-op work experience programs for credit or programs approved by a college of applied arts and technology or a university.

The blitz is part of the Ontario government's commitment to ensuring vulnerable employees receive their employment standards entitlements in the workplace.

Quick Facts

  • During the 2014 internships blitz, the ministry recovered more than $48,500 for interns.

Additional Resources


“With very few exceptions, unpaid internships are illegal, and it’s imperative that employers know their obligations to interns and are following the rules. If you work in Ontario as an intern, and are not exempt, you deserve to get paid at least minimum wage and receive other entitlements under the Employment Standards Act. This blitz shows us there are still employers who don’t understand or decide not to follow the rules, and we will continue to work to level the playing field for those that do follow the rules. We will also continue to work to ensure everyone doing an internship is treated fairly and their rights are respected.”

Kevin Flynn

Minister of Labour

Media Contacts



Law and Safety