Veterans and workers say compromise proposed for Veterans Affairs office closures simply won’t work

OTTAWA, ON – Veterans and the workers who serve them say they are troubled to learn about a compromise proposed by two Nova Scotia MLAs at a meeting with Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino in Ottawa yesterday. 

The proposal by Nova Scotia MLAs Eddie Orrell and Alfie MacLeod would see the office closure go ahead, but leave a Veterans Affairs Case Manager in the local Service Canada office.

“We are grateful that these MLAs are concerned about the issue, but wish they would have just talked to veterans and the workers we rely on for services before heading off to Ottawa,” said Sydney veteran Ron Clarke. “We hope they’ll meet with us now and hear what we have to say,” he added.

Yvan Thauvette, president of PSAC’s Union of Veterans Affairs Employees, says his members were as surprised as veterans were to read about the proposal in today’s news.

“I echo Ron’s sentiment that we are happy they are paying attention, but we are also very concerned because the proposal simply won’t work,” said Thauvette. “Putting one or two Case Managers in a Service Canada office can’t possibly make up for closing the Veterans Affairs office where 13 workers currently provide services to 4,200 clients,” he said.

Thauvette said he is writing to MLAs Orrell and MacLeod today to ask them to meet with veterans and workers to discuss other ways they can help.

Clarke says he is also worried that the proposal doesn’t seem to address closures in the rest of the country. The government closed the Prince George Veterans Affairs office in January. Eight more – in Corner Brook, Charlottetown, Sydney, Thunder Bay, Windsor, Brandon, Saskatoon and Kelowna – are slated for closure some time before the end of February 2014.

“I will be asking these MLAs to back our call to Minister Fantino to put everything on hold until he goes out to all these communities to talk directly with veterans and the workers who serve them about why they are protesting the closures,” said Clarke.

For more information:

Lesley Thompson, PSAC Atlantic Communications, 902-471-6201,

Jonathan Choquette, PSAC Communications, 819-773-2511

November 21, 2013