During the COVID-19 emergency, the Safety Office is continuing to provide services.

Click here for more information on essential services that will continue, work that will be suspended, the laboratory shutdown checklist, and changes to the ESF hours.

Student unpaid work

Students often participate in unpaid work or internship either through formal placements arranged through a course or program, or through self-arranged internship on a volunteer basis. The following guides provide information on insurance coverage and requirements for students, mentors and staff placement coordinators at the University.

Insurance for students on unpaid work placements

Volunteer Guideline (for UW and non-UW students)

Insurance for students on unpaid work placements

Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) Student Unpaid Work Placements

MTCU provides coverage for workplace injuries under one of two programs:

  • Placements with employers under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act are covered by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).
  • For employers not covered by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, private insurance coverage is provided by MTCU.

MTCU provides such coverage to encourage the participation of employers in providing unpaid work placements for Student Trainees ("learners") required as part of Ontario’s publicly assisted post-secondary education and training programs.

The MTCU guidelines apply to students considered "learners" by the WSIB, who are placed by University of Waterloo faculties/departments with employers to obtain work skills and experience on unpaid training placements when:

  • The placement is authorized by a University faculty or department
  • The student participates, however minimally, in the activities of the placement employer's industry
  • The placement includes a formal assessment component

"Learners include university students on a training placement with an employer as a formal part of the course or program.  However, university students who as part of their program do unpaid research for the university are not considered "learners" under the insurance policy." 

- Workplace Safety & Insurance Board

Faculties or departments arranging unpaid placements must have the placement organization and participating student complete the following forms:

In case of illness or injury, the post secondary student unpaid work placement insurance claim form must be completed and sent to the Safety Office and placement coordinator within 24 hours of the illness or injury.

To comply with MTCU reporting requirements, faculties/departments are to complete the forms with the student before placement.

MTCU data collection for students on unpaid work placements

MTCU guidelines require universities to report statistics on unpaid work placements each term, therefore placement coordinators are required to submit statistics on all MTCU-approved unpaid placements to the Safety Office at the end of each academic term. 

Ministry Guidelines for Unpaid Work Placements  - these guidelines are prepared by the Colleges and Universities Branches of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to assist in the understanding and administration of workplace insurance for students on unpaid work placements.

For further information contact:

  •   The placement coordinator in your faculty/department
  •   Co-operative Education, ceca@uwaterloo.ca
  •   Safety Office, Kate Windsor ext. 35814

Non-MTCU covered Unpaid Placements

Not all unpaid placements meet criteria for insurance coverage by Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU). Below are some examples of unpaid placements/internships which do NOT meet the MTCU's criteria for unpaid learners.

  • Courses or programs that are not MTCU-funded
  • Practicums for which there is no evaluation component
  • Unpaid co-op placements at UWaterloo
  • Grad students participating in field placements or site visits for the purposes of skill development
  • Students collecting data for research (where the student is not in the employ of the University)

For experiential learning opportunities approved by the University that do not meet MTCU criteria, coverage is available for students enrolled at the University of Waterloo who are participating in unpaid placements that are not covered by MTCU or WSIB. It does not cover students who volunteer their services for their own learning or work experience benefit or E-Co-op terms.

To initiate a claim for injury or illness related to an unpaid placement that is not covered by MTCU, the department must notify the Safety Office (Kate Windsor) and Finance (Jamie Mahony) with the incident information via email.