OTTAWA, Dec. 10, 2013 /CNW/ - Veterans and the workers who serve them
want Minister Julian Fantino to stop misleading veterans about what
they will be able to access at Service Canada if Veterans Affairs
office closures go forward next year.
Veterans across the country are fighting the closures of eight offices
in Corner Brook, Charlottetown, Sydney, Thunder Bay, Windsor, Brandon,
Saskatoon and Kelowna. The Prince George office closed in January and
veterans want it reopened.
On November 28 Minister Fantino announced that one Veterans Affairs
worker would be left in a Service Canada office in each of the
communities when offices close on January 31 next year. But PSAC has
since learned the measure will last just three months, and that in some
cases that one worker would only be available on a part-time basis.
"Veterans recognized immediately that putting one worker in a Service
Canada office wouldn't make up for closing down a whole office," said
Sydney veteran Ron Clarke. "To learn now that the minister didn't even
tell the whole story around that that is infuriating," he added.
PSAC President Robyn Benson called on the minister to acknowledge the
reality of the impact of the closures.
"There's no way around it - closing these offices means taking away
veterans-only spaces where almost 90 front line workers provide the
in-person support veterans need and deserve," said Benson. "The
government must reconsider this decision because it will hurt veterans
and drive them away from the services they need and deserve."
"These closures will mean 25 fewer Case Managers nearby to work with
high-risk veterans in their homes and 21 fewer Client Service Agents in
the offices when veterans need them," said Yvan Thauvette, president of
PSAC's Union of Veterans Affairs Employees. "Then there's the
administrative staff, local managers, pension officers, nurses and
occupational therapists. None of these people are dispensable," he
Thauvette says veterans in other communities will see longer waits for
services too - especially where offices are taking on thousands of new
files because of the closures. Those offices have lost staff too, and
now veterans as a whole will have fewer people to work on thousands
Ron Clarke says the closures send an especially bad message to veterans
given recent news about suicides among returning soldiers and veterans.
"So many veterans are in crisis," he said. "Now is not the time to be
taking away a crucial part of the system that is supposed to ensure
those veterans get the help they need when they need it.
For further information:
Shelina Merani, Communications - PSAC, 613-293-9324, firstname.lastname@example.org