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Student Trainees and Learners

Under the Ontario Postsecondary Student Unpaid Work Placement program, students trainees and learners (hereinafter referred to as student trainees) enrolled at Ryerson or another institution are able to complete unpaid work placements while enrolled in one of Ontario’s approved university programs.

As part of the program, Ryerson may take on either the role of either

  • training agency, which involves placing Ryerson student trainees in positions at an external placement employer, or
  • placement employer, whereby students from another institution can work at Ryerson.

In either cases, Ryerson has prescribed roles, responsibilities and processes under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and Workplace Safety and Insurance Acts (WSIA). The university is also obligated to adhere to guidelines set out by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU).

All student trainees working at Ryerson require training

Student trainees working at Ryerson University are treated similar to a regular worker in our workplace and will require mandatory environmental health and safety training.

Term

Definition

Approved program

A post-secondary program offered by a training agency that is funded through an operating grant from the MTCU.

Competent person

A person whose qualifications include having the requisite knowledge, training and experience to organize trainee’s work and performance. This person is also familiar with the OHSA, and any potential or actual dangers to health and safety in the workplace.

Critical injury

Under the OHSA, a “critical injury” refers to an injury of a serious nature that either:

  • places life in jeopardy;
  • produces unconsciousness;
  • results in substantial loss of blood;
  • involves the fracture of a leg or arm or more than one finger or toe;
  • involves the amputation of a leg, arm, hand or foot or more than one finger or toe;
  • consists of burns to a major portion of the body; or
  • causes the loss of sight in an eye.

Chubb Insurance of Canada

A private insurance company retained by the Government of Ontario.

Employer

A person who employs or contracts the services of one or more workers, contractors or subcontractors to perform work or supply services; and a contractor or subcontractor who undertakes a duty to perform work or supply services with an owner, constructor, contractor or subcontractor.

MTCU

Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities

Placement employer

The employer with whom the student trainee is placed by a training agency to receive training as part of the requirements of his or her approved program.

A placement employer can be any business in Ontario.

Ryerson Placement coordinator

A person who arranges, coordinates or administers the arrangement of practicum experience placements for student(s) enrolled in an approved program. The placement coordinator is  a Ryerson staff or faculty member and is responsible for coordinating student(s) during the placement. In some cases, the placement coordinator may also serve as the program coordinator, placement supervisor, placement adviser, site supervisor and/or practicum supervisor.

Student

A post-secondary student enrolled in an approved program at a training agency, external link, including Ryerson University.

Student trainee

A post-secondary student engaged in an unpaid work placement with a placement employer.

Supervisor

A person who has control over a worker or an activity being performed by a worker in a workplace. This may include a Ryerson faculty or staff member who provides direct control or supervision of a placement student in a workplace external to Ryerson. Faculty or staff members are considered supervisors under the Ministry of Labour guidelines, if they do any of the following:

  • determine the tasks to be done by a particular placement student;
  • direct and monitor how work is performed on an ongoing basis;
  • decide and schedule hours of work; and/or
  • deal directly with placement students’ occupational health and safety concerns and complaints.

Training agency

A post-secondary educational institution, external link.

Unpaid work placement

An unpaid work placement that is part of a Ministry-approved program offered by a training agency.

Worker

A person who performs work or supplies services for one of the following:

  • monetary compensation;
  • high school student volunteer experience authorized by the student’s authorizing school board;
  • work experience without compensation as part of a post-secondary program (i.e. co-op program);
  • unpaid training that is not considered employment under the Employment Standards Act as it falls under a specific exclusion (i.e. unpaid internship); and/or
  • no monetary compensation (i.e. “travailleur”).

WSIA

Workplace Safety and Insurance Act

WSIB

Workplace Safety and Insurance Board

Ryerson student trainees working at external placement employers

When a Ryerson student trainee is placed at an external placement employer as part of an unpaid work placement with their approved program, Ryerson is considered a “training agency”.

In this section you will learn about:

  • responsibilities of Ryerson placement coordinators;
  • responsibilities of Ryerson student trainees;
  • insurance eligibility, coverage and duration; and
  • the process for incident or injury reporting.

A placement coordinator at Ryerson is the person who arranges, coordinates or administers the arrangement of practicum experience placements for student trainee. In some cases, the placement coordinator may also serve as the placement supervisor, adviser, site supervisor and/or practicum supervisor. For a full description, please refer to the definition above.

As outlined by Ryerson’s Office of the Legal Counsel and Board Secretariat, Ryerson placement coordinators are required to follow these steps prior to the placement start date:

  1. Provide the Letter to Placement Employers, external link to the placement employer to complete. Once it has been completed, provide it to the student trainee to review and sign.
  2. Provide the Student Declaration of Understanding, external link to the student trainee to sign.
  3. Send both the completed and signed Letter of Placement Employers and Student Declaration of Understanding to practicumwsibform@ryerson.ca.
  4. Determine whether MTCU or Ryerson will be providing the insurance coverage to the student. 
    • If MTCU is providing insurance coverage, determine whether the placement employer is covered by the WSIA or not. This information can be found on the completed Letter to Placement Employers. If the placement employer is not covered by the WSIA, the number of students that are not covered will be collected quarterly. 
    • If Ryerson is providing the insurance coverage, notify Ryerson’s risk and insurance officer at 416-979-5000, ext. 553772 or insurance@ryerson.ca to inform them of the number of students that are not covered by MTCU and require insurance.
  5. Provide a copy of the Pre-placement Risk Assessment Checklist, external link to the placement employer to complete.
    • This pre-placement tool helps Ryerson University exercise due diligence and ensure that student trainees are not placed in unsafe working environments. It supports the placement employer in an  evaluation of the potential risks and safety practices of placement employer.
    • Note: Only one checklist per academic program per external placement employer is required.. It is also possible to adjust how frequently this checklist is administered and the number of sections requiring completion depending on the placement. For example, for a program that is offered repeatedly by the same employer, the checklist may only need to be completed once a year.
  6. Request that the placement employer complete the Safety Orientation Checklist for Students Working at External Placement Employers, external link, used to provide health and safety information to a student prior to work. This is only required if the placement employer does not have their own orientation checklist.
  7. In the case that a student trainee has been involved in an incident or injury, immediately upon learning of the incident, the placement coordinator should follow the steps below under “Reporting an incident or injury”.

As outlined by Ryerson's Office of the Legal Counsel and Board Secretariat, students trainee should:

  1. Complete the google docStudent Declaration of Understanding, external link, sign it and return it to your placement coordinator.
  2. Complete Ryerson’s mandatory online safety training.
    To access the training:
  3. Attend any site-specific training required by the placement employer.

  4. In the event of a workplace incident or injury during the placement, notify your external placement supervisor and the Ryerson placement coordinator.

Eligibility

Any post-secondary student trainee completing an unpaid work placement offered by an Ontario publicly assisted post-secondary institution, including Ryerson, has workplace insurance coverage paid by the MTCU.

Note: The MTCU pays the WSIB for the cost of any benefits paid by the board under the WSIA. The MTCU also pays for the cost of limited private insurance through Chubb Insurance for placements that take place outside of Ontario (i.e. at international and other Canadian jurisdictions) and with Ontario employers that are not required to have compulsory coverage under the WSIA. For any other university-approved work placements or volunteer settings, paid or unpaid, that are not eligible for WSIB or MTCU, insurance will be covered by Ryerson’s Accidental Injury, Death and Dismemberment policy.

Duration

The coverage provided by the MTCU is in effect from the start date of the work placement to its end date.

Coverage

The insurance covers any occupational disease or injuries caused by an exposure or incident or injury on-the-job in the workplace during the work placement, including placements that take place away from the main campus. However, student trainees are not eligible for WSIA benefits if disease or injuries are caused by an incident or injury that occurs during a personal errand or personal business.

If the student trainee chooses to do their unpaid work placement outside of the province (for international students, this applies as long as the placement is not in their country of primary residence), the student trainee would still be eligible for coverage under the private insurance plan provided by Chubb Insurance. However, the student trainee is advised to obtain complementary insurance since Chubb Insurance does not provide full compensation. Any other insurance the unpaid student trainee may have (e.g. from the government, through a spouse’s or parent’s plan, etc.) first pays for all eligible expenses; then Chubb Insurance will pay excess eligible expenses.

In the case that a student trainee has been involved in an incident or injury, immediately upon learning of the incident, the placement coordinator should follow these steps:

  • If the placement employer is covered by WSIB, follow the word filereporting process as outlined by Ryerson's Office of the Legal Counsel and Board Secretariat.
  • If the placement employer is not covered by WSIB, immediately upon learning of the incident, Ryerson’s placement coordinator must contact Chubb Insurance and complete the appropriate paperwork.

Chubb Insurance of Canada
Email: claims.a_h@chubb.com
Phone: 1-877-772-7797

Non-Ryerson student trainees working at Ryerson University

If a student trainee from an external Ontario educational institution is working at Ryerson as part of an unpaid work placement of the student’s approved program, Ryerson is considered a “placement employer”. As per the OHSA, the student trainee is considered a worker.

Ryerson, as the placement employer, has the same duties to protect the health and safety of unpaid co-op students trainees who are workers under the OHSA as we do to protect our paid workers.

In this section you will learn about:

  • when and how to determine if a student trainee meets worker status;
  • responsibilities of Ryerson student trainees;
  • responsibilities of Ryerson placement coordinators;
  • responsibilities of Ryerson placement supervisors;
  • insurance eligibility, coverage and duration; and
  • the process for incident or injury reporting.

Scenario

Worker status

Analysis

High school placement student performing a placement at the university

Yes

The high school student is a worker at Ryerson University. Therefore the student needs health and safety training and supervision similar to a regular worker in our workplace.

Unpaid student enrolled in a non-credit, non-graded research practicum course that do not require a course fee and involves volunteering in labs or other areas over the summer and during the term

Yes

The student meets the definition of a person who has received training from an employer, but who, under the Employment Standards Act (ESA), is not an employee for the purposes of the ESA because the training conditions* set out under both the ESA and the OHSA apply.


*The training is for the benefit of the person, and,the training is similar to training given in a vocational school, and, the employer derives little benefit, and, the person does not displace other employee, and, the person is not accorded a right to become an employee and the person is advised that they will receive no money.

Volunteers (not enrolled in any post-secondary approved program)

No

Volunteers are not covered by this new definition of a worker.

The student trainee is required to:

  1. Complete the Student Declaration of Understanding form (to be provided by the student trainee’s institution).
  2. Complete all of the following mandatory training:
  3. In the event of a workplace incident or injury during the placement, notify their Ryerson supervisor and the student trainee’s institution placement coordinator.

Prior to the placement start date, the Ryerson placement coordinator is required to:

  1. Receive the following from the student trainee’s institution:
    • student trainee’s full name (or a list of trainees if multiple trainees is coming from one training agency);
    • specific days when the student trainee(s) will be at Ryerson;
    • student trainee(s) acceptance of the conditions of the unpaid work placement (i.e. Student Declaration of Understanding from the student trainee’s institution); and
    • a signed Letter to Placement Employers (from the student trainee’s institution).
  2. Provide the Letter to Placement Employers to the Ryerson placement supervisor to sign, and return the signed letter to the student trainee’s institution.

Under the OHSA, a supervisor is a person who has authority over a worker or has control of the activity being performed by a worker in a workplace. This may include a Ryerson University faculty or staff member who provides direct control or supervision of a placement student. Faculty or staff members are considered supervisors under the Ontario Ministry of Labour guidelines, if they do any of the following:

  • determine the tasks to be done by a particular placement student;
  • direct and monitor how work is performed on an ongoing basis;
  • decide and schedule hours of work; and/or
  • deal directly with placement students’ occupational health and safety concerns and complaints.

For a full description, please refer to the definition above.

The placement supervisor of the student trainee is required to:

  1. Complete and sign the Letter to Placement Employers (provided by the student trainee’s institution), return it to the Ryerson placement coordinator.
  2. Complete Ryerson’s Environmental Health and Safety eLearning (online training) and Health and Safety for Managers and Supervisors (in-class training).
  3. Familiarize themselves with the supervisor duties under the OHSA, which include:
    • ensuring that a worker works in the manner, and uses the protected devices; measures and procedures required by the OHSA, and follows the applicable regulations required by the employer;
    • advising the worker of any potential or actual dangers to health or safety you are aware of;
    • providing the worker with written instructions as to the measures and procedures to be taken for their protection; and
    • taking every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of the worker.
  4. Complete the Safety Orientation Checklist for Student Trainees and Learners Working at Ryerson, external link.
  5. Ensure that the student trainee completes the following:
  6. In the event of an incident or injury, follow the steps under “If a non-Ryerson student trainee has been hurt” on the Report an Incident or Injury page.

This procedure applies when Ryerson University is the placement employer, and accepts student trainees from an external Ontario educational institution.

Eligibility

Any post-secondary student completing an unpaid work placement offered by an Ontario publicly assisted post-secondary institution, external link has workplace insurance coverage paid by the MTCU.

Note: The MTCU pays back the WSIB for the cost of any benefits paid by the Board under the WSIA. The MTCU also pays for the cost paid by Chubb Insurance (limited private insurance) for placements that take place outside of Ontario (i.e. at international and other Canadian jurisdictions) or with Ontario employers who are not required to have coverage under the WSIA.

Duration

The Ontario Ministry of Labour coverage is in effect from the work placement start date to end date.

Coverage

The insurance covers any occupational disease or injuries caused by an event, incident or injury on-the-job in the workplace during the work placement, including placements that take place away from the main campus. However, students are not eligible for WSIA benefits if disease or injuries are caused by an incident or injury that occurs during a personal errand or personal business.

If a student trainee from an external Ontario educational institution completing an unpaid work placement at Ryerson has been involved in an incident or injury, the placement supervisor(s) and coordinators(s) must follow the steps under “If a non-Ryerson student trainee has been hurt” on the Report an Incident or Injury page.

Additional resources

Review the MTCU guidelines, external link and refer to their questions and answers, external link for workplace insurance for postsecondary students of publicly-assisted institutions on unpaid work placements.