Union hasn't given up fight against relocation of Vegreville immigration centre

The union representing workers at the Vegreville immigrant and refugee case processing centre is still trying to fight the relocation of 236 jobs to Edmonton before the fall move date.

'I just think it’s really terrible that this is happening,' says centre worker

The Immigration Processing Centre in Vegreville is scheduled to be relocated to Edmonton in 2018. (Lydia Neufeld/CBC)

The union representing workers at the Vegreville immigrant and refugee case processing centre is still trying to fight the relocation of 236 jobs to Edmonton before the federal government's targeted move-in date this fall.

Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) officials are reviewing legal options to help the 40 workers who left their jobs because they were unable to move to Edmonton. 

"We are looking to see what we can do to assist them," said Marianne Hladun, PSAC's Prairies regional executive vice-president.

Hladun said the union is pressing for other options, such as telecommuting or setting up a satellite office, instead of forcing people to leave the community 100 kilometres east of Edmonton.     

The federal government announced the relocation  in 2016. In a statement sent to CBC News this week, officials from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said the decision to relocate came after the Vegreville office failed to meet "current and future business requirements."

"The location of the case processing centre in Vegreville had posed considerable challenges to IRCC's capacity to maintain its operations, such as the retention and recruitment of staff, that could undermine the functioning and service standards of the processing centre in the coming years," the statement added.

Vegreville residents have said moving the Vegreville Processing Centre to Edmonton will be devastating for the Alberta town. (Michelle Henderson)

A report presented to Vegreville officials last year said the town could lose 420 residents when the office closes.

Many have said the relocation will be a huge economic hit for the town of more than 5,400 people.

'There was anger'

Michelle Henderson is one of those people. She has worked at the Vegreville office since it opened in 1994 and said it was shocking to hear the office would be moving to Edmonton. 

"There was anger," she said. 

Like many of her colleagues, she has decided to follow her job to Edmonton.   

But Henderson, who is also the Alberta, Northwest Territories and Nunavut national vice-president for the Customs Employment and Immigration Union, said many of her colleagues are still very unhappy with the federal government's decision.

"I just think it's really terrible that this is happening. At the end of the day, they have options," she said.

The Vegreville move is expected to be complete by Sept. 4. The new centre will be located within Canada Place in Edmonton.