Quebec students took their demands to the streets before heading to the education ministry in Montreal over unpaid internships.
As they weaved through city streets on Thursday, students called on Education Minister Jean-François Roberge to address the issue as the new Coalition Avenir Québec delivered its first provincial budget.
Students claim the province failed to live up to a promise to earmark money as part of the 2019 budget for paid internships.
“As expected, the scenarios concerning the compensation and supervision of internships will be tabled at the end of April,” Roberge said on Twitter. “We have been assured by the minister of finance that money will be available to deal with them as soon as the next school year starts.”
The march is just one part of a larger movement in the province where more than 35,000 university and CEGEP students are taking part in a week-long walkout.
As part of their demands, students are seeking pay and workplace protections for internships and stages that are done as part of their studies. They also want internship work to be covered under Quebec’s labour standards law so there is protection against harassment and accidents in the workplace.
Jamie Cheng, who studies at the Université du Québec à Montréal, said one of her concerns is how unpaid internships are more common in fields where the majority of workers are women.
“Paid internships right now are typically male-dominated fields like engineering, computer science,” she said. “Others that are traditionally and predominantly female aren’t paid so we’re talking about nursing, education, social work which still aren’t paid.”
Quebec university and CEGEP student associations could continue walkouts or other pressure tactics in the coming weeks.
WATCH BELOW: Thousands of students take to downtown Montreal streets to protest unpaid internships
— With files from Global’s Gloria Henriquez and The Canadian Press