The federal website listing volunteer positions for students is riddled with hundreds of positions that do not exist.
The jobs, originally part of the $900-million government aid program called the Canada Student Services Grant (CSSG) provided student-volunteers the opportunity to earn up to $5,000 toward their schooling should they volunteer the maximum 500 hours.
For example, positions listed on the I Want to Help website include 1,500 spots with the YMCA Canada aimed at creating an online exercise regime for children and seniors in their communities.
Yet the YMCA claims that they had not agreed to the jobs, instead suggesting that they were actually the creation of WE Charity, an organization with close ties to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
WE has since withdrawn from running the CSSG program.
In an interview, YMCA Canada president Peter Dinsdale suggested the company could host 391 volunteers through dozens of YMCA locations, focusing on three areas: helping local branches with marketing and web design; data analysis; and assisting seniors with tech questions.
"We sent a draft in and they sent a draft back and that's when we saw these other positions and we asked to separate them," Dinsdale said of the 1,500 positions for online exercise regimes. "And they said great. And we haven't heard from them since all this has gone down."
In response, WE issued a statement to The Canadian Press claiming:
"These discussions (with the YMCA) took place quickly, given our short timeline for delivery, and some confusion arose around the two separate agreements. That confusion contributed to a misunderstanding on our part which led to one group of service positions being posted, rather than the other group of service positions.
Dinsdale said that the YMCA was unaware the 1,500 positions had been listed, citing that the agreement with WE was never actually signed; meanwhile, the 391 positions the YMCA did want to fill have yet to be advertised.
"The 391 that we're actually putting forward, our Ys are ready and willing to engage in it and there are some really interesting opportunities that could exist for youth and our YMCAs and communities. So we're certainly hopeful those go ahead," Dinssdale said.
Thousands of other positions listed on the federal website involve creating online content or mentoring other students on topics such as COVID-19's impact on the environment, nutrition and cyberbullying.
Some are posted in large groups, like a call for 1,000 volunteers to be trained to hold one-on-one sessions with others on "the impact of COVID-19 on food security in your community."
Another batch is looking for 1,250 volunteers to devise "social-media assets" (captions, memes, videos) for local and regional campaigns involved in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
None of these positions name who would be hosting these potential student-volunteers, but rather are listed simply as "supporting local non-profits in your community" rather than specific charity.