CPRS Remuneration for Public Relations Interns Policy Statement

CPRS Remuneration for Public Relations Interns Policy Statement

June 2022
The Advocacy and Ethical PR Committee of the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) developed the following policy statement regarding the payment of public relations student interns during their work terms, approved by the National Board, June 2022.

According to the Canadian Public Relations Society, unpaid internships have no place in the public relations profession in Canada. We therefore call for this practice to be discarded forthwith.

Across the country, many post-secondary institutions offer programs for young people to pursue a career in public relations. These programs often include an internship component, with a prescribed minimum number of hours required for completion. It is our firm belief that these internships should be paid and that students participating in such programs be fairly compensated.

As a starting point, employers should pay at least the hourly minimum wage (as set by each province) for the interns' work, or the equivalent amount in a lump-sum honorarium. Students remain free to pursue other experiences through volunteering with causes they support or that hold career interest, but an internship placement for a diploma, certificate or degree granting program should be paid.

Section 4 of the CPRS Code of Professional Standards states that all members of the body shall deal fairly with fellow practitioners. A public relations student deserves fair treatment in their work internship, and this includes being paid for services rendered / provided to the employer in question.

CPRS endeavours to ensure that the future members of our profession are fully reflective of our diverse population. Unpaid internships are an insurmountable hurdle to many, and can make all the difference to a student or young professional's career and long-term economic prospects; there should be no economic, cultural or other barriers to entry. If we ignore barriers, we prevent people with limited economic resources from entering the public relations profession. 

In 2021, the CPRS Board unanimously supported the following statement: "The Canadian Public Relations Society calls on all those organizations who employ public relations students and interns to ensure they are properly compensated for work performed, either by meeting the minimum wage standards in their region or providing an appropriate honorarium."

CPRS defines internship as a non-voluntary, contractual form of supervised work experience, of any duration, that benefits the employer and the intern. This is not meant to discourage employers from allowing students to participate in a work-shadowing or short-term experience program that forms a part of a student's coursework.