Service Canada workers join chorus of criticism over office closures and reduced service across Newfoundland and Labrador

ST. JOHN'S, Feb. 7 /CNW/ - The union representing federal workers who provide employment, pension and other important services across Newfoundland and Labrador is adding its voice to the growing chorus criticizing Service Canada's decision to severely reduce service in a number of smaller communities across the province.

Service Canada has announced that it will close its existing 'outreach offices' in the 13 communities of Port Saunders, Pollards Point, Bonavista, Burgeo, HR Breton, Forteau Labrador, Ramea, New Wes Valley, Twillingate, Old Perlican, Trepassy, Baie Verte and St. Albans.

Denise Richey, National Vice-President of the Canada Employment and Immigration Union for its Newfoundland and Labrador membership, says Service Canada instead now plans to send a staff person to those communities for one day every two weeks. "This is simply a shuffling of already-overworked staff from larger to smaller centres.

"Federal cutbacks have seen the number of our members staffing rural offices fall from roughly 40 to between 10 and 15. The net result is dramatically less access, greater waiting time and a legitimate sense of being second-class citizens. These people deserve nothing less than the same level of quality professional services our members provide to other Canadians."

Jeannette Meunier-McKay, the union's National President, says the cuts "will penalize smaller communities with a generally older population and higher level of unemployment. Service Canada, presumably with the support of the Harper government, is again treating the people of Newfoundland and Labrador with disdain."

The CEIU also has the full backing of its bargaining agent, the Public Service Alliance of Canada. "We are proud of the service we provide to all Canadians. Service reductions in rural areas, especially in Newfoundland and Labrador, are a totally unacceptable attack on seniors and the unemployed," added Jeannie Baldwin, the PSAC's Regional Executive Vice-President for the Atlantic Region.

Service Canada's actions come at a particularly low point in its dealings with its employees. On January 25, CEIU's Newfoundland and Labrador leadership voted to cut consultation ties with management over a number of issues, including staffing and service levels and workload.

The Canada Employment and Immigration Union represents more than 19,000 federal public service workers, including those who counsel clients, process employment insurance claims and provide pension and income security program assistance.

SOURCE CANADA EMPLOYMENT AND IMMIGRATION UNION

For further information:

Contacts:

Denise Richey, CEIU National Vice-President, Newfoundland and Labrador
(cellular) 709-746-9743

Jeannette Meunier-McKay, CEIU National President
(cellular) 613-762-1781

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CANADA EMPLOYMENT AND IMMIGRATION UNION

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