Minister Fantino must hear from veterans before going ahead with Veterans Affairs office closures

OTTAWA, ON – Veterans and the workers who serve them say Minister Fantino needs to hear what they have to say before going ahead with closures of Veterans Affairs offices in their communities.

PSAC’s Union of Veterans’ Affairs Employees say their workers have been told the government is waiting until November 13 or 14, just after Remembrance Day ceremonies, to start informing veterans about when offices will close in Kelowna, Saskatoon, Brandon, Thunder Bay, Windsor, Sydney, Charlottetown and Corner Brook.

Veteran Ron Clarke, one of 4,200 who depend on the Sydney Veterans Affairs office for face-to-face service, says the minister should hold off on sending out those letters.

“We have hundreds of veterans and their supporters coming out on Saturday to protest the closures,” said Clarke. “We’ll use that occasion to invite Minister Fantino to come to Sydney to hear first hand from veterans why we need our office,” he said.

UVAE president Yvan Thauvette, who is in Corner Brook today to speak at a rally opposing the closures, says he hopes the minister will heed calls by veterans for consultation.

“I have written to Minister Fantino to urge him to go out into the affected communities to talk to veterans and the workers who serve them,” said Thauvette. “That hasn’t been done and that is truly a disservice to veterans.”

PSAC has also asked 25 Conservative Members of Parliament to meet with veterans and front line Veterans Affairs workers who want their help stopping the closures. The MPs were chosen because their ridings are close to where offices are closing, or because they are themselves veterans.

“We really hope these MPs will meet with us and hear what veterans have to say, and help us stop their government from rushing forward with these closures,” said PSAC National President Robyn Benson. “Our veterans deserve to be heard.”

The rally in Corner Brook starts at noon today at 1 Regent Square. The rally in Sydney starts at 10:00 a.m. in front of the Legion at 101 Dorchester Street this Saturday, November 9.

For more information:

Jonathan Choquette, PSAC Communications, 819-773-2511, ChoqueJ@psac-afpc.com