Veterans Affairs office closures criticized by mayors
Atlantic Mayors' Congress adds its voice to call for three offices to remain open
The Atlantic Mayors’ Congress has sent a letter to the federal minister in charge Veterans Affairs, urging him not to close three district offices in the region.
The offices on the chopping block are in Charlottetown, Sydney, Nova Scotia, and Cornerbrook, Newfoundland.
The closures are scheduled for February, although the department says it will set up what it is calling an access centre in Charlottetown. Veterans have protested the move, including a large demonstration in Sydney last weekend.
Now the mayors’ congress, a twice annual meeting of municipal leaders from the Atlantic provinces, is also urging the federal government to reconsider.
Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee said he doesn't think sending veterans to Service Canada if they need front line help is a good idea.
"People that are employed with the department of Veterans Affairs have the training,” he said. “It doesn't make any sense to me to say 'OK, this group of employees are now trained to deal with these situations, but instead of them dealing with it, we're going to train somebody else to deal with it.'
“That really, from a financial perspective, from a quality of service perspective, simply doesn't make any sense to me.”
In an email sent to CBC a spokesperson for the minister of Veterans Affairs said, "Our government is dedicated to ensuring Veterans and their families have the support they need, when and where they need it. To that end, services are now being offered conveniently to Veterans at 600 Service Canada offices in every region of the country."
The email added, "In addition, we've improved services to veterans by increasing the number of case workers in the regions where veterans need them most."