Veterans Affairs job cuts not fair: Downe

Dave Stewart
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Veterans Affairs Canada building in Charlottetown

P.E.I. Senator Percy Downe is calling on MPs across Atlantic Canada to fight against cuts to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Downe attended a meeting in Charlottetown Thursday of close to 20 members of the business community who were brought together to discuss their concerns.

The federal department announced recently plans to cut $226 million from its budget over the next two years. This budget cut will lead to a loss of 500 jobs and The Guardian has reported a further 150 to 300 jobs are also on the chopping block.

"Over the last three years, employment of federal government positions in Atlantic Canada have been reduced by over 400 at a time when the federal government was expanding,'' Downe told The Guardian. "The ministers in Atlantic Canada have to go to their colleagues around the cabinet table and (tell them) we can't have a disproportionate cut in our region. That's an argument the rest of cabinet would be receptive to.''

The senator said over the same time period, 119 federal government positions on P.E.I. were eliminated, according to figures provided by the Treasury Board.

Kathy Hambly, executive director of the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce, said several initiatives came out of Thursday's meeting.

"We're just in the process of putting together a letter that we will send to our federal representatives to express our concerns on behalf of the business community,'' Hambly said. "We're also looking to reach out to other chambers across the region who are also being impacted. It's not just Veterans Affairs jobs. It's federal employment levels across the region that are being reduced over the last three years even though federal employment levels have increased.''

"Over the last three years, employment of federal government positions in Atlantic Canada have been reduced by over 400 at a time when the federal government was expanding." Sen. Percy Downe

Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee was out of town on Thursday so Ron Atkinson, the city's economic development officer, sat in on the meeting.

"Mayor Lee is taking this issue very seriously. It's something that is very important to him,'' Atkinson said.

Downe said he understands there will be cuts but feels the need for DVA in the future will be a lot greater than many people think.

"The younger generation of veterans is having a much higher demand on resources (and) they are much more aware of treatment options that are available,'' the senator said.

He said it's a generation that understands things like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) a lot more now, a generation that is Internet and media savvy.

"People, from those peacekeeping in Bosnia right to Afghanistan . . . their needs are going to be greater and whatever their needs are the Government of Canada has an obligation to them. You simply cannot cut $226 million from the department and claim there will be no reduction in service. It's an impossibility.''

Organizations: Veterans Affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs.Downe, The Guardian Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, Charlottetown, Bosnia Afghanistan

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Recent comments

    November 20, 2011 - 10:10

    As a veteran It helps to talk to a veteran,,, if you wish to talk to a veteran at VAC then speak to the Comissionaire on the way in. It is not the fault of VAC employees dealing 'face to face',,,in fact we need more,,, it is the fault of the self serving bureacrats that occupy the 'window offices' who set and maintain policies that are not even logical. Start the 'firing' at the top and spread the savings to the 'face to face' people who actually try and help vets. I support Percy Downe's initiative, he was the first to note that VAC hired fewer vets then other Federal Departments and he has most effectively stood up and was counted when vets were ignored. Remember the old poem,,"Its Tommy this and Tommy that and Tommy no you can't come in,,,, but when the guns begin to Play,,, Its Mister Aitkens please lead the way!",,, Always been and always will be so listen to Percy Downe, he at least is trying to 'open the door".

  • "Must be Great"
    November 19, 2011 - 18:21

    New Members join the 'Must be Great Club" - The Must be Great Club is comprised of people who do not have a great paying job, a nice car, a pension and rarely has steak or lobster for dinner BUT resents and begrudges everyone else that worked hard, studied for a long time, paid to learn skills or be lucky enough to be just plain smart to have all the aforementioned things YET would drive over their grandmother's grave to have these things. Members can often be heard saying ' must be great' ! Welcome to the MUST BE GREAT club 'Fairness, Joy and Tracy'

    • Me
      November 20, 2011 - 14:34

      That was funny, +1! But you must not be to hard on the "Fairness, Joy and Tracy's" of the world. The 1% percent use their animosity towards meeting ends that are worse for all of us in the end. The Conservatives in Canada and Republicans in the US, are masters of the tactic. It's strange bedfellows to see a party comprised of the super rich and working poor... Instead of fighting, we need to collude.

  • New members have joined the 'Must be Great" club
    November 19, 2011 - 17:31

    New members have joined the 'MUST BE GREAT CLUB'. This new club is comprised of people who begrudge what other people have ( nice home, new car, good job, lobster for dinner) yet would drive over their grandmother's grave if they though they could have a chance of having the same things. People in this club can often be heard saying ' must be great'. Welcome 'Fairness' 'Joy' and 'Tracy' - you are now a member of the club.

    • Ancalagon The Black
      November 19, 2011 - 22:25

      If there are over 1000 fewer vets every month then it seems rather obvious to cut jobs at the DVA. Use a little common sense here folks. They could start by cutting many of the people with the 6 figure salaries that do nothing all day except spend their time protecting their jobs. Don't start crying it's sour grapes on my part either because i know for a fact that this is how it is on every level in there top to bottom. If these people spent more time doing their jobs instead of trying to protect the gravy train they could likely cut the staff in half and there would be no reduction in service whatsoever.

  • Marie
    November 19, 2011 - 08:36

    The real questions should be about our Vets and if they will still receive quality service and benefits. THEY are the reason the DVA that the men and women who stood for, and fought for, this country can be looked after when they come home. You know...the guys who were standing out front a few weeks ago asking for their rightful benefits. Never mind the cushioned arse pushing the pen...they too can fit right in to the welfare lines with the rest of us!!!

    • cushioned
      November 19, 2011 - 11:56

      If you or anyone else don't like the pay and benefits structure within the federal government then complain to your MP and demand something be done. Why the continued hateful slander towards the employee? What small minded pettiness. I see a job advertised with the government and it has a salary attached to it. I apply, and am deemed to meet the qualifications which include a degree and other skills. I'm given an offer which I accept. So now I should be the target of some sort of character assassination? Advertisements for entry level jobs at DVA often open and close within 48 hours, because after two days there's already upwards of 1,000 applications. Not much moral outrage over the salaries there.

  • Fairness
    November 18, 2011 - 22:40

    To Lisa and Gerry ...... I'd say you two should be shipped to Ottawa with an appointment at the Common to give your head a shake. One thing everyone overlooks is that yes you get paid the same as all the other DVA'ers in Canada ...... but our cost of living is about half than other areas of the country. The guy in BC making $80K is living hand to mount. The guy in PEI making $80K is having Lobster for dinner every night ....... house cleaners ......... Nanny's .......... 2 Vacations a year ........... all while he watches his/her overblown pensions grow and grow. Its gonna look good on you guys standing in line at Service Canada. Too many smugg remarks over the years about using Sick days as holidays / Overtime payments / 95% Maternity / Leaving early / Coffee Breaks / August Holidays / Income Averaging / 11 over 12 .... etc .etc .etc are coming back to haunt you. PS - Max EI is $415.00 per week. Better start saving.

  • Gerry
    November 18, 2011 - 21:30

    Agree Lisa, the negative comments directed toward federal government employees stems from jealousy filled with venom. Truly pathetic.

  • muddycrik
    November 18, 2011 - 19:16

    lisa, of course Tracy is jealous! Who wouldn't be if you are looking in from the real world where we are lucky to get 75% of the wages and benefits DVAers get! You or your husband or both obviously work there.

  • Garth Staples
    November 18, 2011 - 18:06

    It is obvious that Percy Downe never ran a business with his own money. Always the taxpayers. I guess he is still adhering to the old Liberal notion of entitlements. Get off the backs of taxpayers for once with some real ideas.

  • Big Mike
    November 18, 2011 - 15:48

    Maybe Clifford can hire some of the unemployed DVA workers to help put in the sewer system. Could actually work out for both parties !

  • Ashley Johnston
    November 18, 2011 - 15:48

    To say the cuts are not fair because it is not proportional is to suggest there was something sacred about the original proportion. If there was something sacred about the original proportion then that should be the talking point.

  • Karma
    November 18, 2011 - 15:45

    Start with the Senator's buds and all the political appointees first. The those who brag to their friends and neighbours about working half days and all those who you cannot find in their office after 12 noon on a Friday. Then we'll go from theree. Oh yeah and be sure to write your MPs who sit in the back benches of the H of C representing the 3rd party. That'll help a lot.

  • Joy
    November 18, 2011 - 14:56

    Smartest move the federal government EVER made.

  • wade Mason
    November 18, 2011 - 14:43

    Are the MP's taking a pay cut so why should the workers ?

  • Tracy
    November 18, 2011 - 14:11

    I think that instead of cutting the jobs the workers should not be paid so much then its win-win.Maybe its the employees wages that are putting the strain on the system not our Vets. The money is supposed to be there to help them not line the pockets of the workers, talk to anyone that works there.....if they will be truthful.... it is ridiculous the benefits and wages that they get, they are not the VETS. just sayin

    • Lisa
      November 18, 2011 - 17:46

      Tracy, veterans affairs employees are paid according to scales that have been negotiated by unions and are universal to all federal employees all across Canada. To suggest that VAC employees should take pay cuts is nonsense. Sounds like jealousy talking to me.