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Work is worth something

You don’t come here just to get a zero dollar an hour job./ Haley Klassen
You don’t come here just to get a zero dollar an hour job./ Haley Klassen

Does the Bank of Canada’s Governor even understand why people need wages?

Stephen Poloz is an out-of-touch old man. Assuming that all students are living for free at home in their parents’ basement isn’t an offensive or hurtful statement – it’s just really stupid. Considering the amount of University of Regina students on student loans, working jobs to put themselves through school or going in to debt, it’s ridiculous to assume that the majority of Canadian students live rent-free in basements.

And this is why his statement that young people should consider working for free while trying to find paying work is so ridiculous. If that’s what he views the average Canadian student as being, a freeloading basement dweller, it ignores everyone else. He justifies students being able to work for free because they do not pay rent or have any expenses.

This excludes every other spectrum of student and is far from reality.

Fundamentally, if you work, you should be paid for it. Volunteering is a separate camp altogether. Businesses should expect interns to perform the duties of any other employee. It is workplace training, on the job experience – emphasis on the ‘job.’

As a journalism student part of my degree is an internship. My department requires the internships to be 13 weeks and paid. For me to get my degree, the internship I take must pay me a salary.

But, students in education are not paid for their internships. Why? In fact, they have to pay tuition, as do journalism students on internship, to work at their unpaid position.

These cases echo the tone-deaf sentiment of our nation’s right and laissez-faire mouthpieces. In response to the statements made by Poloz, the Toronto Sun, agreeing with him, published an article expressing that the world of unpaid internships are ripe for abuse and that this is what we should be going after.

Yes! Yes it is! And the easiest way to guarantee that abuse doesn’t occur in internships is to treat interns as you would other employees – with respect. Give them a salary, responsibilities and benefits. Treat them like workers, not indentured servants or slaves. Especially when these internships are mandatory for graduation.

Also, claiming that students and grads looking for work or internships are being greedy and lazy is an incongruity I have yet to wrap my head around.

‘Are you looking for work or looking for an internship? Well obviously you’re a lethargic slob you proactive go-getter! You want a salary? Get lost you entitled gen Y’er, don’t you take government assistance! Back in my day, you’d go to school for an English degree and get handed an upper-management position the day you left school… the nerve of these spoiled kids!’ Be sure you read those standard responses to the problem of youth unemployment in your most curmudgeonly tone possible.

But, seriously, these internships can be the ‘foot in the door’ many need to jumpstart their careers. Many can justify not getting paid for the experience and contacts they receive, but this exploitative. It is labour for nothing and asking you to be thankful for it. If these are the best options for severely underemployed young people, they should be for all them, not only the ones that can afford it, Mr. Poloz.

Own your labour, bust your ass in internships, and demand equality and fair pay for your work.

About Alec Salloum

I’ve been interested in writing for most of my life and am excited to be working at the Carillon. I love to cook, recently got into woodworking and am constantly reading something.