Jobs Canada promises to connect attendees with more than 15,000 employment opportunities across Canada at its job fairs, all for the cost of a few dollars.
One of those fairs took place Monday at the Radisson Hotel on Portage Avenue in Winnipeg.
In advertisements online, Jobs Canada said the event would give job seekers face time with 11 employers, all eager to hire. The ad was widely shared on social media and even posted by the Government of Manitoba on a website geared toward newcomers—but attendees the CBC spoke to said the $2 admission wasn't worth it.
Abdulhi Mohamed, a high school student, was expecting to learn about dozens of job opportunities to help him pay for college or university. Mohamed brought a stack of resumes with him and was prepared for interviews. He thought, in his words, he would get "hired on the spot."
Instead, Mohamed left disappointed like everyone else, he said.
"They didn't even take my resumes," said Mohamed.
"A waste of money ... a ripoff," said fellow attendee Salman Ahmed, of the event.
Jobs Canada advertised 11 employers, including Sun Life Financial, Canada Post and Statistics Canada, would be available to meet job seekers like Ahmed and Mohamed.
"We saw only five jobs. Real estate and Tim Horton's that was it. They said McDonald's was coming, Canada Post was coming. There were no jobs," said Mohamed.
A description for the job fair on Jobs Canada's Eventbrite page describes it as an "incredible and outstanding tool to meet in person with recruiters, have direct contact with Hiring Companies and get connected with Human Resources Managers."
Georgia Cook said she wished she had spent the $2 admission on a coffee instead.
"It was very disorganized," Cook said.
"You could actually just see the disappointment in the faces."
While CBC was interviewing unsatisfied participants, an organizer with Jobs Canada came outside and offered to refund their tickets. Those who accepted the refund said they were given $5 refunds for their $2 tickets.
CBC called all 11 employers Jobs Canada said would be on hand at the event, the six who responded said they declined to participate in Monday's event.
Sun Life Financial said to its knowledge, it has never participated in a Jobs Canada event, Nannies on Call said they do not operate in Winnipeg, Canada Post said it declined to participate because the fair was on a holiday and the Canadian Forces said it is not hiring in Winnipeg and added, "We are looking into why we may have been listed for other locations." McDonald's Canada said is not involved in the job fair is looking into why it was listed.
Between 1,200 to 1,500 job seekers attended the Winnipeg fair on Monday, said Annie Peltea, operations manager with Jobs Canada.
"In the name of Jobs Canada I would like to apologize for any confusion that was created on the website," she said.
"We have confidential information from each employer as to why they did not participate," Peltea said.
Jobs Canada held a jobs fair on Tuesday in Saskatoon. It has other similar events planned for Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.