Author Topic: Veteran’s Affairs office in Sydney to be phased out by 2014  (Read 4855 times)

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Veteran’s Affairs office in Sydney to be phased out by 2014

Published on April 13, 2012

SYDNEY — The Veteran’s Affairs Canada service office in Sydney has been slated to close by 2014 as part of cross-country cuts to the federal public service.

Topics :
    Veterans Affairs Canada , DND , Public Service Alliance of Canada , Sydney , Halifax , Saint John

The move will mean the loss of 12 local jobs and the need to travel for veterans to Halifax or Saint John, N.B., if they want face-to-face service.

“That is going to be totally unacceptable, especially Sydney, where they are so good and we are so dependent upon them,” said Jean Marie Deveaux, president of Royal Canadian Legion Nova Scotia/Nunavut command.

“That is not good because while our veterans are passing, it is now that they need the most help. I’m afraid we are all going to have to stand up and start rattling some cages in Ottawa.”

Deveaux first heard about the closure Thursday night, but has yet to see anything official from Veterans Affairs Canada. She hopes to learn more during a semiannual meeting with the federal department, April 22.

Pat Leblanc, 46, who served in The Gulf, the Golan Heights, Bosnia and Africa, said younger veterans are upset by the move, too.

“People are thinking that veterans are Second World War veterans, but there are a lot of younger veterans,” he said. “All you have to do is go to the DND website and it shows you where Canadians are serving all around the world and they get injured.”

Today, he has the option of phoning a call centre or sitting down with someone at the Sydney office if he has questions about his benefits. He’s not looking forward to what 2014 might bring.

“I’m getting a pension right now and if there is a payment error or whatever, you call the 1-866 number to try to get it sorted out there and it takes a month or two. But when you go down (to Sydney) they are so welcoming and they usually sort it out really fast.”

Leblanc hopes there’s a government change before the plan to close the office comes to fruition. In the meantime, he wants politicians and business groups to join any protests against the cuts.

Jeannie Baldwin, regional executive vice-president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said 44 workers with Veterans Affairs in Atlantic Canada received workforce adjustment letters on Thursday.

As a result, service offices in Sydney, Charlottetown, P.E.I. and Corner Brook, N.L., will be phased out.

“It sends a really bad taste,” she said. “These veterans serve their country, fight for their country, they come back. Veterans apply for their pensions, medical and disability claims — that’s what the veterans office does. It’s a service officer that provides that type of service for them.”

Things will get worse next year, she said, when 232 positions at Veterans Affairs head office in P.E.I. are eliminated.

“It kind of tells you exactly their priorities and the veterans are not one of them.”

Janice Summerby, media relations adviser for Veterans Affairs Canada, said the Government of Canada places the highest priority on making sure veterans and their families have the support they need, when they need it.

“The department has to adjust how and where we do business to keep pace with the changing needs and expectations of the veterans we serve,” she wrote in an emailed response to questions.

“Our focus is to ensure we have employees in the locations where they are most needed. As a result, some offices across the country may grow bigger while offices in some other areas will either get smaller or close.”

There will be no reduction in service to local veterans, she wrote. Further details will be finalized as the district office is phased out.

“There will be no reductions in our case management services. The departments case managers provide care and support to veterans in greatest need. We will continue to meet or exceed our service standard of one case manager for every 40 case-managed veterans.”

Sylvain Chartrand CD

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Justice denied for veterans (Sydney)
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2012, 07:10:01 PM »
Justice denied for veterans (Sydney)

Published on December 19, 2012
Letters to the Editor (The Cape Breton Post)

This regards the closing of the Veterans Affairs Canada office in Sydney.

I have followed the letters and editorials, and attended meetings and demonstrations on this, and it’s agreed this shouldn’t happen. If it does, veterans would be denied justice.

Shame on the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other politicians for being quiet. It seems they want us to die so we won’t be a burden.

I’d say Cape Breton has more veterans and serving Armed Forces members per capita than most parts of Canada.

All of the Remembrance Day services were well attended with a lot of respect for veterans and serving members. Too bad the government doesn’t seem to feel the same.

I would like Veteran Affairs Minister Steven Blaney to respond to this letter.

Kenneth George

New Victoria