About us

At OFE, our mission is to equip individuals to achieve greater independence by pursuing and maintaining meaningful employment.


More than 27,000 people in Winnipeg have found employment as a result of OFE’s work.


Over 25 years growing and diversifying to meet the changing needs of the Winnipeg labour market and the demographics of Winnipeg job seekers.


OFE offers free recruitment services to Manitoba employers. Over 5000 employers have hired OFE job seekers.

Who We Are

Our Values

We have a diverse team of individuals from a variety of backgrounds who share basic humanitarian values. They include respect, compassion, inclusiveness, humility, empathy, love, honesty, and a sense of justice and equality. Most importantly, OFE staff members have the desire to serve others and be a part of making their lives better.

How We Got Here

Our History

OFE is a faith-based not-for-profit corporation providing employment assistance services in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Our earliest roots started in 1996 after Art and Leona DeFehr returned home to Winnipeg from a trip to the U.S. While there, they had become aware of America Works, an organization that uses an incentive-based business model to help low income people find jobs.

Interested to know if this model could be replicated in Manitoba, the DeFehrs gave some promotional material about America Works to Garry Loewen, then the head of MCC Manitoba’s Employment Concerns program. With help from Eden Heath Care Services, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC Manitoba) and Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA – Winnipeg Chapter), and through a contract with the Manitoba Government for a two-year pilot project, Opportunities for Employment Inc. was born.

Now over 20 years later, more than 27,000 people in Winnipeg have found employment as a result of OFE’s work. OFE continues to grow and diversify to meet the changing needs of the Winnipeg labour market and the demographics of Winnipeg job seekers.

As a leader in research and innovation in the employment development field, OFE continues to pioneer entrepreneurial and incentive-based approaches to employment services, resulting in increased employment rates, growth and productivity in our local economy, reduced reliance on social supports and lower costs to the Manitoba government.

Our Way

The Demand-led Model

OFE is not only in the business of changing lives with meaningful employment, but also growing local companies and strengthening our economy. We have expanded our demand-led programming with what we term as “rapid response” modules in the following four primary sectors: manufacturing and processing, health services support, retail, and customer contact industry.

We use a dual customer approach with a demand driven model, which engages employers in the process of equipping individuals for the labour force. The model is responsive to the unique needs of individuals with varying levels of attachment to the labour force and to the needs of Manitoba employers as they seek new and innovative recruitment strategies, training solutions and human resource management practices to fill vacancies and retain productive employees.

The model is designed to measure gains and identify key milestones along a continuum. Job seekers are able to “test out” a work environment and be exposed to areas of industry and positions they may not be familiar with before they engage in programming designed to prepare them for the technical aspect of the job. The program model provides industry specific essential skills and technical training and allows for flexibility in delivery to foster innovation and system improvement.

Thumbnail image of the "Welcome to OFE!" video. Clicking the play button will play the video.

Board of Directors

Doug Lochhead, President/Board Chair
President, Granite Financial Group Inc.
Ab Freig, Vice Chair
President, Activ Tec Environmental Canada
Trudy Turner, Secretary
Realtor, RE/MAX Performance Realty
Shawn Mahoney, Non-voting Director
Executive Director, Opportunities for Employment
Klaus Lahr, Director
Ret. CEO and President, RBC Convention Centre
Sylvia Marusyk, Director Nominee
International Activational Speaker, Founder/Owner MindBody Works
Dan Enns, Treasurer
Partner, Penner & Enns Chartered Professional Accountants Inc.
Mark Toews, Director
Lawyer, Deely, Fabbri, Sellent Law Corporation
Harv Mock, Director
Communications Instructor, Red River College
Phil Trudeau, Director
Staff Sergeant, Winnipeg Police Service
La Royce Batchelor, Director
Founder/CEO, Clever Crow
Jenna Hmatishin, Director Nominee
Director of Operations, Manitoba Technology Accelerator

Our partners

Financial Support:
The Government of Canada
The Manitoba Government
The United Way of Winnipeg
IG Wealth Management
Assiniboine Credit Union
Richardson Foundation
The Winnipeg Foundation
CLAC Foundation
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Winnipeg Goldeyes
The United Way of Winnipeg
The Winnipeg Police Service
The Clothes Closet
Hubb Insurance
The United Way of Winnipeg
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