Nova Scotia

Mark Eyking hopes Sydney Veterans Affairs office will reopen this year

A Cape Breton MP hopes Sydney's Veteran's Affairs office will reopen this year and says the federal department is recommending it include more staff than were employed when it was shut down in 2014.

More specific information will follow federal government's spring budget

Crowds gather in front of the Sydney Veterans Affairs office in January 2014 to protest its closure. (David Burke/CBC)

A Cape Breton MP hopes Sydney's Veterans Affairs office will reopen this year and says the federal department is recommending it include more staff than were employed before it was shut down in 2014.

Sydney-Victoria Liberal MP Mark Eyking said the Sydney office could be a "template" for the staffing and services to be offered at eight other veteran support offices the Trudeau government has pledged to reopen. 

"My sense is that the Veterans Affairs Department is costing, sourcing, and putting this all together, so Parliament will have the numbers that it's going to cost to do this to help veterans better," Eyking told CBC Radio's Mainstreet Cape Breton.

The locations were closed by the previous Conservative government. Eyking said he and Cape Breton MP Rodger Cuzner "will be pushing that we have some sort of office up and running before the end of this year."

Eyking said if an existing building can be renovated, he expects it will be open to veterans by fall. But new construction would mean a longer wait.

Local veterans' activist Ron Clarke hopes it will be a welcoming place for both veterans and their families.

He said he looks forward to a building where a spouse can wait comfortably in "a space where they can have a cup of tea, a sandwich or what have you."

Clarke was behind the Anything But Conservative campaign launched to encourage people to vote against Stephen Harper and the Conservatives following the shut down of the veteran support offices.

He said he and his colleagues are allowing the new government some time to fulfill its promises. If the Liberal government falls short, Clarke said his group will take action similar to what it did against the Conservatives.

Eyking said the Liberals are taking a thorough and detailed approach to restore, and improve, service for veterans.

"It would be ideal to have the offices open in the next few months, but why don't we do it right," he said. "Make sure we have the money to do it right, and that it's accessible and do the job it's supposed to do."

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