Veterans Affairs Canada hiring hundreds of new workers
Case workers, client service agents, disability benefits officers among those being hired
The hundreds of Veterans Affairs Canada workers cut under the previous Conservative government are in the process of being replaced.
Case managers, client service agents and disability benefits officers are among the positions currently being filled according to Carl Gannon, the national president of the Union of Veterans Affairs Employees.
"We've seen cuts of close to a 1,000, with a vast majority of those front-line staff, so we need to beef up the front line again," said Gannon. "Because the reality is, where the department is right now, we're not in a position to uphold that mandate.
In his mandate letter to Veterans' Affairs Minister Kent Hehr, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said a priority will be to "re-open the nine Veterans Affairs service offices recently closed, hire more service delivery staff, and fully implement all of the Auditor General's recommendations on enhancing mental health service delivery to veterans."
In a statement sent to CBC Tuesday, the department wrote, "The Government of Canada is committed to hiring as many new staff as needed to ensure veterans and their families can access the benefits and services they need when and where they need them."
Gannon said at this stage, between 80 to 100 workers have already been hired and are in the process of being trained.
Hire veterans: advocacy group
Gannon said Veterans Affairs Canada has been able to move ahead with hiring quickly because the previous Conservative government committed to hiring 300 workers just before the election campaign got underway.
We're pushing hard, being the union and representing front-line staff.- Union leader Carl Gannon
But Gannon said the Liberals have promised to hire hundreds more workers to make up for the years of cuts to the department, including the reopening of those Veterans Affairs offices.
"Hopefully by June we'll see those offices actually opened. We're pushing hard, being the union and representing front- line staff," said Gannon. "The department has started looking at the locations and all of those things."
Michael Blais, a veteran who heads a veterans advocacy group, said he hopes that Canadian Forces veterans themselves are hired into some of the vacant positions.
"It was difficult under the last administration for veterans to gain federal employment due to the reality of mass civil servant cutbacks," Blais told CBC News in an email. "As we enter the 'sunny ways,' I am hopeful that many qualified veterans will be able to find gainful employment at the federal level."