Veterans campaign to keep district offices open
9 offices across the country due to close, says union
A national campaign launches Thursday to stop Veterans Affairs district offices across Canada from closing.
Veterans Affairs has not yet confirmed which offices will close, just that 78 positions will be cut in the process.
The Union of Veterans Affairs Employees has said eight offices will close on Feb 28, and that an office in Prince George, BC has already closed. Veterans Affairs has said the district office in Charlottetown, where the department's head office is located, will close, and be replaced with what it is calling an access centre.
District offices are places where veterans can meet face-to-face with case workers. The Public Service Alliance is fighting to keep these front-line services open.
Corner Brook, N.L.
Thunder Bay, Ont.
Jody Lapierre, who is the local union president in Charlottetown, is concerned about veterans having to travel to see their case worker.
"Now you're looking at a veteran travelling, depending on where they live on P.E.I., up to five hours to drive to Saint John New Brunswick for a face-to-face service that they're used to having," said Lapierre.
Veterans Affairs says it's moving towards offering services in a more effective and efficient manner.
"Services standards will not change and we remain dedicated to providing Veterans with the same high quality service to which they are accustomed," said Veterans Affairs media relations advisor Janice Summerby in an email.
"We are committed to maintaining quality service to Veterans all over Canada, regardless of their geographic location."
Island veteran John Yeo doesn't think the department has calculated paying for the travel costs veterans can claim.
"If your appointment is to see your district worker at 8 o'clock in the morning, you've got to go over the day before. You've got to spend the night in a hotel, you've got to have meals, and everything else. I cannot see the cost saving in that," said Yeo.
Yeo will join eight other veterans on Parliament Hill for the noon time launch of the campaign Thursday.