Justin Trudeau reopens Veterans Affairs office in Sydney
Office was one of nine shut down by the federal Conservatives in 2014
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has cut the ribbon on a new Veterans Affairs office in Sydney, N.S., replacing one that was shuttered by the Conservative government in 2014.
The new office opened on Monday and is located in the former courthouse near Wentworth Park. It's the fourth VA office to be reopened since the Liberals came to power last year.
"Rest assured, we know that it's not enough to just open the doors and turn on the lights," Trudeau said, addressing a group of veterans outside the new office.
"We need to make sure that these centres, which deliver a wide range of crucial services for our veterans, are adequately staffed to get the job done."
More workers, PM promises
Trudeau said hundreds more frontline workers have been hired across the country. He said that will be mean shorter wait times, and an increase in the quality and efficiency of service delivery.
"Today's reopening is great news for the people of this community and the approximately 2,200 veterans that live in this service area," he said.
Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr said the new office will have up to 15 employees to answer questions about services and benefits, help complete applications and conduct medical examinations for pensions.
"It is also a place where 146 veterans will work with case managers and will be able to give them [veterans] the quality, in-person, one-on-one service that they need and deserve," he said.
Veterans call new office a 'renewal'
Restoration of VA offices was one of the Liberals' promises during the 2015 election campaign.
Veteran Charlie Palmer of Sydney calls the new office "a renewal of what should have happened years ago."
"There's a lot veterans in Cape Breton, like myself," Palmer said. "They're all getting older now. We now have our Veterans Affairs back in Sydney, where it's close to people and they can take advantage of it."
Another vet, Ron Clarke, led the fight to have the office reopened, after it and nine others across the country were closed in 2014.
He launched the Anyone But Conservative campaign before the 2015 federal election as part of an effort to oust the Harper government over changes to services for vets.
'It's very relaxing'
Clarke said veterans are happy with the new location.
"It's a wonderful spot for the office," he said. "We're right on the park. And there's a balcony that goes outside and you can see the ducks on the water. And it's very relaxing."
Later in the day, Trudeau and Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr will meet with veterans at the Wesley Street branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.