New Veterans Affairs office opens in Thunder Bay, Ont.
New Syndicate Ave. office to employ 7 staff to serve 1,700 veterans across the northwest
Federal representatives were on hand in Thunder Bay, Ont. Thursday morning to officially open the new Veterans Affairs office in the city.
The Syndicate Avenue S location replaces a previous office in the city's downtown north core that was shuttered by the Conservative government in 2014.
For local veterans like Roy Lamore, who has been fighting for the office's return, Thursday's grand opening was "like winning the war," he said, adding that it's very important that veterans, young and old, be able to talk to service providers in person.
"When you're sitting with somebody that is looking after your life or part of it, being face to face with an individual is just what we want, that makes it more comfortable," the Second World War veteran said.
The office is expected to employ seven people who will serve about 1,700 veterans across northwestern Ontario.
Staff will help veterans with paperwork, answer questions about benefits and arrange pension medical examinations.
Offices being reopened
Thunder Bay area MPs Don Rusnak and Patty Hajdu were on-hand for Thursday's official opening. The Thunder Bay office is the seventh site to reopen since nine regional offices were closed.
The federal government added that a tenth office will open in Surrey, B.C. in May.
Having regional sites, like in Thunder Bay, is important, said Don Rusnak, the Liberal MP for Thunder Bay-Rainy River, because it brings the services and the people who need them closer together.
"The office can do outreach, they can connect with the homeless shelters, they can find the veterans that have slipped through the cracks and provide them the support that they need to get back on their feet," he said.
Lamore added that having that safety net is important.
"They've done their job — women, men — they've done their service, now don't sell them short," he said.
"I've often thought, 'don't push them in the the corner, they've done the work,'" he continued. "Now it's up to the government and other people to give them a better life."