In Quebec, thousands of post-secondary students are on strike over unpaid internships in a bid to put pressure on the provincial government before it delivers its budget this week.
More than 35,000 university and CEGEP students across the province are expected to take part in the week-long strike after students walked out on Monday.
As part of their demands, they are seeking pay and workplace protections for internships and stages that are done as part of their studies. They are also asking for internship work to be covered under the province’s labour standards law so there is protection against harassment and accidents in the workplace.
At Concordia University, students picketed outside of classes early Monday morning.
Miriam Lafontaine, an undergraduate student in the university’s journalism department, said she hopes to send a clear message about the working conditions that come with stages that offer no compensation.
“It’s important because we’re barring a lot of people from the industry if they can’t afford to do unpaid internships,” said Lafontaine.
WATCH BELOW: Thousands of students take to downtown Montreal streets to protest unpaid internships
Walkouts are planned in several cities across Quebec, including Montreal, Gatineau, Victoriaville and Sherbrooke.
Organizers say pressure tactics could also continue to escalate next week if the Coalition Avenir Québec government doesn’t address the issue when it unveils its first budget on Thursday.
In November 2018, students held a similar strike over unpaid internships. At the time, Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge said the new CAQ government planned to address the issue, but that pressure tactics were premature.
— With files from Global’s Phil Carpenter and The Canadian Press