New Brunswick

'There were faults in it': Employee warned of misleading counts on jobs website

A former New Brunswick government economic development employee says the province's nbjobs.ca website, which is at the centre of a controversial national advertising campaign, has had problems with double counting want ads for more than a year.

'If we are promoting it, shouldn't the numbers be correct?' says ex-economic development employee

At one point Wednesday, the nbjobs.ca site stated there were 1,526 jobs in New Brunswick. The figure was later reverted to 2,990. (Government of New Brunswick)

A former New Brunswick government economic development employee says the province's nbjobs.ca website, which is at the centre of a controversial national advertising campaign, has had problems with double counting want ads for more than a year.

Daniel Picard worked for Opportunities New Brunswick and the provincial economic development department before moving to Yellowknife. (Daniel Picard/Twitter)
"There were faults in it and I could easily see them and anyone could easily see them," said Daniel Picard, a former employee with both the Department of Economic Development and Opportunities New Brunswick, who now works in Yellowknife.

​Picard said while he was with Opportunities New Brunswick there was talk of promoting nbjobs.ca, but he felt it needed to be culled for duplicate job listings first.

"My point was, if we are promoting it, shouldn't the numbers be correct?" said Picard.

"There were redundancies. I didn't count all of them, but there was a lot and so I emailed one of the directors and said, 'Someone should be looking at this.'"

There were faults in it and I could easily see them and anyone could easily see them.- Daniel Picard, former N.B. government employee

Picard said he is not aware of the problem being fixed and earlier this week, CBC News reported on what appears to be a pattern of want ads for single positions showing up multiple times on the site, inflating the number of jobs available in the province.

That's become an issue because for the last month the New Brunswick government has been advertising across Canada that the province has a "soaring economy" and "3,000 jobs now" for people to apply for, based on the want ad tabulations on the nbjobs.ca website.

'I'd like to see it pulled'

On Wednesday, Opposition Leader Blaine Higgs called on the Gallant government to cancel the remaining two weeks of the $360,000 advertising campaign, which he called "self promotion."

"I'd like to see it pulled," said Higgs.

Opposition Leader Blaine Higgs says the government should cancel its advertising campaign about job openings in New Brunswick. (CBC)
"It's nothing more than trying to establish a perception in people's mind of a false condition and that's where I feel it's just so, so wrong."

Adding to government headaches over the issue Wednesday, the website began reporting only 1,526 available jobs in the province for several hours.

The government blamed a "technical error" and by midday job listings jumped back to 2,990, although with the same double counting problems in some listings.

Liberals had promised during the 2014 provincial election to submit all government advertising campaigns to an independent third party to eliminate ads that "promote the partisan interests of the governing party," but have not introduced legislation to require that.

About the Author

Robert Jones

Reporter

Robert Jones has been a reporter and producer with CBC New Brunswick since 1990. His investigative reports on petroleum pricing in New Brunswick won several regional and national awards and led to the adoption of price regulation in 2006.

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