Mr. Speaker, thank you for letting me participate in this evening's adjournment proceedings.
I am pleased to have the opportunity to return to a question that I asked in the House on October 2 concerning protection for interns working in federally regulated businesses.
I have spoken with many organizations and young people in the past few years and months. Across the country, young workers are asking that the challenges they face be recognized. They cannot find paid work. They graduate but cannot support themselves because they cannot find full-time work in their field. They are carrying record debt, and their unemployment rate is double the national average.
They are also often exploited by employers who turn paid jobs into unpaid internships. Thus, young people are working for no pay. We have also seen the number of unpaid internships increase considerably in recent years. it is estimated that there are approximately 300,000 unpaid internships in Canada. That is a huge number.
In the meantime, the NDP is calling on the federal government to help these young workers find stable, paying jobs. In May 2013, the NDP member for Davenport introduced Bill C-542 to create an urban workers strategy and increase support for people with unstable jobs. My NDP colleague from Davenport called on the federal government to work with the provinces to challenge the use of unpaid internships and to protect these vulnerable unpaid interns.
Furthermore, the government would have to start collecting data now, through Statistics Canada, on the extensive use of training internships. Unfortunately, right now, there is no information on the number of unpaid internships in Canada. The figure that I mentioned—300,000—was just an estimate, and Statistics Canada does not have any information about this.
I remind members that the Conservative government made cuts to the long form census. We know that youth unemployment is a serious problem, but how can the federal government take action if we do not even have the facts and figures? It is a huge problem.
The NDP thinks that the federal government should commit to working with the provinces to create a national policy on unpaid internships.
When I asked that question in the House, the Conservative government did not give me an answer. The minister said that unpaid interns can file a complaint if ever they find that there have been issues of abuse during their internship. Unfortunately, the minister was mistaken.
Currently, there is no recourse for unpaid interns because they are not considered employees under the Canada Labour Code. That is a major loophole, and I am calling on my colleagues to support Bill C-636 so that we can protect unpaid interns.
Will the government finally put an end to this abuse and work with the NDP to extend rights and protections to interns?