Calgary

Amazon warehouse job breakfast brings out Albertans struggling for work

Hundreds of people turned out to an Amazon Stampede Breakfast on Saturday, in hopes of securing one of the 1,000 jobs that will be posted for the new warehouse at the end of this month.

Benefits, advertising of inclusivity encourage hundreds of job seekers

Jas Khangura is the general manager for the new Amazon fulfilment centre in Balzac, Alta. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

Hundreds of people turned out to an Amazon Stampede Breakfast on Saturday, in hopes of securing one of the 1,000 jobs that will be posted for the new warehouse at the end of this month.

The 600,000-square-foot facility in Balzac, just north of Calgary, will receive, sort and pack purchases for Western Canada. It's set to open at the end of summer following a huge run of hirings.

That was enough to bring out Nora Mailey, an oil-and-gas worker who lives in nearby Airdrie. She has been unemployed since November.

"I'm getting pretty desperate to be working," she said while standing in line Saturday. "That industry's pretty flat right now, so I need to be looking for something different."

Nora Mailey brought her granddaughter to Amazon's Stampede Breakfast and job fair on Saturday. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

The jobs will range from human resources to warehouse workers, said general manager Jas Khangura. The jobs will be posted online July 29, so Saturday's event was to encourage applicants and have staff available to answer candidates' questions.

He said he was also laid off from the oil-and-gas industry. He moved to Ontario to work for Amazon, so he's happy to be back in Calgary to run the centre here.

Amazon held a Stampede breakfast on Saturday to encourage people to apply for roughly 1,000 upcoming job postings. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

Celina Pelletier said she was encouraged by the offer of immediate benefits and later, registered retirement savings plans and stock options. She works for herself in the construction industry, which she said has become difficult.

"I'm not just walking out of Grade 12 with no responsibilities," she said, "Everybody's always trying to low-ball you, especially if you're a female."

Celina Pelletier works in construction and thought she'd give Amazon a chance after seeing they offered benefits and hired women for labour jobs. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

She said she prefers job fairs because she can meet face to face to go over her skills and construction experience. Online, she said they just see her resume and name.

"I have a female name, so they think that I'm dainty and that, 'You know, she can't do that job,'" Pelletier said. "And they'll pick a guy over me almost all the time."

She felt confident applying after seeing woman do manual warehouse jobs in Amazon's promotional videos. However, she was disappointed to find out Amazon wouldn't be taking resumes at Saturday's job fair.

Khangura said applicants can make a profile online and set up an alert so they know as soon as the job postings open.


With files from Anis Heydari.