Thunder Bay

'Robust' Veterans Affairs office in Thunder Bay, Ontario prepares to reopen in January

The Veterans Affairs office in Thunder Bay, Ont., is on schedule to be reopened in January 2017 says Kent Hehr, the federal minister responsible for the portfolio. The Thunder Bay office was one of eight closed in 2014 by the previous government.

Thunder Bay office closed in 2014, will reopen in January 2017 with eight staff to serve 1,700 veterans

Kent Hehr, minister of Veterans Affairs announced that a Thunder Bay Veterans Affairs office closed since 2014 will reopen in Januray 2017. (Kris Ketonen/CBC)

The Veterans Affairs office in Thunder Bay, Ont., is on schedule to be reopened in January 2017 says Kent Hehr, the federal minister responsible for the portfolio.

"We believe this will serve the community [of veterans], getting their benefits, their forms, and the information they need to build their lives," he said.

The office in the northwestern Ontario city, and seven others across the country, were closed in 2014 by the previous Conservative government.

When the Thunder Bay office reopens on the 1st Floor, 130 Syndicate Ave. South. it will have eight employees to serve 1,700 veterans across the region. But Hehr said the government will be monitoring operations and could increase staffing if necessary.

An analysis of the offices showed some case managers were handling as many as 35 or 45 files, Hehr said, adding "that was not within the best practices models of social work or healthy transitioning, so now with hiring front-line staff that the former government cut, we are going to be getting to a ratio of one case manager per 25 veterans."

Kent Hehr, minister of Veterans Affairs (fourth from right) is seen at the commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of Beaumont Hamel in France in July 2016. (Ministry of Veterans Affairs)

The new offices are also reaching out to partners in the community such as health care workers, physio and occupational therapists, and psychologists, which is resulting in some improvements in wait times, and the ability to process claims to help veterans, said Hehr.

"I have veterans in my department who are 19 years old and some who are 100. So it's a great way to understand the complex needs of veterans and that's why we need an office that is robust, fully staffed and has an ability to think about the needs of a veteran from a variety of perspectives."

Clarifications

  • A previous version of this story stated "When the Thunder Bay office reopens at 975 Alloy Drive." In fact, that is the temporary address. The office will be permanently located on the 1st Floor, 130 Syndicate Ave. South.
    Nov 14, 2016 10:31 AM ET

now