Photo: Parker Townes.
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10,000 students across Canada expected to receive paid internships per year

On Monday, Nov. 27, Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science, and economic development announced a new initiative to provide paid internships for post graduate students.

The initiative comes out of a partnership with Mitacs, a non-profit organization that delivers research and training programs for students across Canada.

The event was hosted by Student Federation of the University of Ottawa president Hadi Wess, with Mona Fortier, a U of O alumna and member of parliament for Ottawa-Vanier introducing minister Bains.

“Our government’s plan is to create new jobs and business opportunities for Canadians by making this country a world leading centre for innovation,” Fortier said in her introduction.

Bains added that the rationale for the program comes from the fact that “new technologies have transformed our innovation economy into one that is increasingly digital.”

“The future is now. We have to embrace it. Our government wants to make sure that every Canadian has the right skills for the middle class jobs of today and tomorrow.”

According to Bains, the government has invested $221 million in Mitacs, and hopes to see paid internships take place over the next five years. These internships are in addition to the 21,000 plus internships already facilitated by Mintacs over the last 18 years.

Alexia Polillo, a fourth-year doctoral candidate in the experimental psychology program at the U of O has been a Mitacs intern through their Accelerate program for almost two years with the Ottawa branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and the Centre for Research on Educational and Community Services at the U of O.

“Mitacs is a place where you see the hard work that leads to real life change,” Polillo said, explaining that her work with the CMHA helps provide support to people with mental health or substance abuse issues who rely on emergency rooms by directing them to community resources.

“In my experience it really gives students an opportunity to gain practical experience and training in the public and private sectors as well as in various settings like hospitals, community based programs, and businesses,” said Polillo, adding that “it’s important to keep funding these internships.”

Bains said that Mitacs was an ideal choice for the government’s investment due to their expertise, resources, and connections with industry.

“We were very confident that they would have the ability to fill this mandate,” Bains said.