UPDATED: Service Canada sites now processing veterans' applications

Dave Stewart
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P.E.I. Senator Mike Duffy, left, chats with members of the Charlottetown branch of the Royal Canadian Legion Friday in Charlottetown. At centre is Gerald Coyle, past-president of the legion, and Junior Dowling.

P.E.I. Senator Mike Duffy promises veterans in the province will continue to receive one-stop shopping when it comes to filing for benefits.

Duffy was in Charlottetown Friday to announce that the federal government has designated all Service Canada locations on P.E.I. as district offices for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In fact, the same rule applies for all 600 Service Canada locations across the country.

That means, veterans on P.E.I. can process their applications at any one of the five locations in the province, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., five days a week in Souris, Montague, Charlottetown, Summerside and O’Leary.

This announcement comes after news earlier this year that the federal government plans on shutting down its district office in the Jean Canfield Building in Charlottetown by the end of 2013. Until Duffy’s news on Friday, veterans expected they’d have to travel to the nearest location in Moncton.

Duffy said he wanted to address the issue considering all the talk surrounding the issue. He defended the cuts made to the department, explaining that Veterans Affairs Minister Stephen Blaney was committed to cutting red tape around many of the programs and services.

Duffy said it’s about “reducing needless paperwork, streamlining programs and reducing complexity’’.

Service Canada has long been a first contact point for Islanders looking for programs and services such as government pensions and EI.

“What we’ve done is create a partnership between Veterans Affairs Canada and Service Canada so that veterans anywhere in Canada who want to make contact with DVA can do so, not by going to a DVA office but by going to a Service Canada office,’’ the senator said.

Duffy said the department has been working on putting the partnership with Service Canada in play for more than a year, training employees to handle veterans applications.

“The biggest problem the government has found in the last while is in getting veterans into the system there is often a delay. This way, by having 600 points of contact we’ll be able to get them into the system quicker.’’

Duffy said Service Canada employees will also be able to assist veterans with job training, questions about EI, pension, guaranteed income supplement questions and more.

It will also reduce the time it takes to make decisions on disability benefits and simply language used in the decision letters.

“We’re hoping to make sure veterans don’t fall through the cracks.’’

Duffy said it also proves government is committed to veterans.

“The fear mongering that was going on the last six months that people would have to drive to Moncton or Halifax is just not true.’’

 dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

twitter.com/DveStewart

 

Organizations: Service Canada, Royal Canadian Legion, O'Leary.Service Canada Veterans Affairs

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Souris, Canada

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Recent comments

  • TROOPER
    July 29, 2012 - 08:40

    Well Done Senator Duffy.YOU and YOUR announcement have awkened us all to how disorganized and half baked the reorganization of VAC truly is. YOU have done us all a favour by bringing this to our attention and actually helping us to mount an offensive against the plan.Enjoy your beer with your Legion buddies, the rest of us Troopers will sort it out to help veterans. Thanks for the help.

  • Island Boy
    July 29, 2012 - 06:57

    FOR "THE FACILITATOR". Duffy is his own worst enemy, he shot himself in the foot (talking about "bed ridden") and The Guardian, by not throughly investigating the facts, infected the wound. According to Duffy "Service Canada Centers" will become the "all singing , all dancing" contact center for Veterans. In his normal over statement of Harper's policy and his lack of understanding of service personnel and their relationship with District Offices he, to be blunt, "Blew It"!,,, and added to the fear factor!,,,,SAD but TRUE

  • Island Vet
    July 28, 2012 - 20:23

    The Facilitator: Read what Duffy says. I agree "Facts" is closer to the truth then you are and certainly a long way from where Duffy stands. I am not the "fear monger" Duffy's statement is truly to be feared for he is trying to cover Harper's cost cutting with a paper bandage and it is NOT working. This is not the "first time" nbor probably the "last time" time Duffy will try to bamboozle us all with his mouth open and his brain turned off. As an Islander, I find it sad to see such a poor representative of The Island.

  • Facts
    July 28, 2012 - 13:46

    The Guardian really should verify details, maybe they would realize from other announcements made that Service Canada is a drop off point, they won't be making decisions or processing applications, they won't be looking after all services, and it is definitely not a replacement to the good work District and Regional Offices play. Other reports stated just two program applications will be part of this merge, so it will hardly be a matter of designating Service Canada offices as District Offices. Why not check out legislative changes that made this possible, or contact these Departments communication staff, or at least go to the other newspapers who reported this details before writing an article. I'm sure it would confirm that the details in this article are not the full story. Perhaps it would also help if Mr. Duffy's speech writers looked in to the facts too.

  • DONESERVING
    July 28, 2012 - 13:25

    Sidney MacFarlane's comments are correct. Initial contact is not the real problem, it is sorting out the flim flam and dealing with the realities that face veterans. Mike Duffy should be most ashamed that he is pushing such a dreadful program. Maybe if he had to stand in line for an hoiur or two he might shut his mouth and open his eyes.

  • Arty Brat
    July 28, 2012 - 10:02

    Bad enough that the top District Office for Vets located in Chtwn was closed as part of the DVA cutbacks, but to add insult to injury, our war weary vets now have to line up in the que to be serviced by people with absolutely no background in what they will be dealing with...we aren't talking about needing x number of weeks to get EI, or to apply for a passport etc ... we are talking about mind numbing service injuries that are suffered and lived with by our military service personnel and ultimately their families...how many Service Canada agents know the difference between a broken bone caused by a fall or a broken bone suffered as a result of shrapnel wounds from an IED...get real...this is the worst yet...setting up JPSCs (Joint Personnel Support Centres) across the country for our ill and injured CF personnel and then telling them to get in line at SC...one step forward and two steps back....its too much...shame on all of you in Ottawa!

  • Sidney MacFarlane
    July 28, 2012 - 09:39

    It would have been a very different picture if Mr. Duffy had done his photo shoot at the Service Canada office with all the other people waiting for service in the background. With all the cuts, the wait timesat Service Canada are awful. Also, the initial application is not why most veterans contact Veterans Affairs, they are looking for follow up on something and will still have to travel for personal contact. This is just more spin on a bad situation across Canada.

  • Ron Boudreau
    July 28, 2012 - 08:44

    From what I have seen, these outlying Services Canada offices are not exactly overrun with staff. The staff that are still working have more than a handful processing EI and pension applications. I guess anybody who has need to visit one of these centres now had better bring a lunch. A pretty typical govt. move to cut staff and increase workload.

  • Prepare to wait
    July 28, 2012 - 08:07

    I waited in a very uncomfortable Service Canada chair for two hours to get a completed passport application 'approved' so it could be mailed. They were short staffed and the room was jammed. Good luck vets!

  • DONESERVING
    July 28, 2012 - 07:55

    Garth Staples: Hang your head in shame! Harper and his 'mouthpiece' Duffy have totally failed to support Vets. Suggest now is the time to descend from your Tory tower and take a look at the real world. If you are standing pat on Tory principles, then be advised, you soon will be trying to tread water.

  • Carolyn Gallant
    July 28, 2012 - 06:58

    "....so that veterans anywhere in Canada who want to make contact with DVA can do so, not by going to a DVA office but by going to a Service Canada office,’’ Because 8 offices across Canada will soon be closing including the Charlottetown office! http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2012-05-05/article-2971191/Island-district-DVA-office-closing/1 Strange how this article did not reference this!

  • GOOD FOR APPLYING
    July 27, 2012 - 21:09

    This will make it easier to have the initial contact with DVA. Now if we can get the DVA employees to understand that these are people and not a number and start treating them like people, it will be great.

  • Island Vet
    July 27, 2012 - 20:46

    Guess you too scared of Duffy to print a Vet's view of this plan. Duffy is a a reason to support Senate reform.

    • Acadian
      July 28, 2012 - 09:07

      I so agree with Island Vet. Duffy is just reading from Harper & Company's script.

  • jimmy buffet
    July 27, 2012 - 20:29

    So they cut EI offices to the bare bones hence the backlogs last year and now they are suddenly proficient in Veterans Affairs cases?This does not even pass the smell test.These people are already obscenely overworked with EI and now the leftovers will handle even more.

  • Island Boy
    July 27, 2012 - 18:45

    Nice of Duffy to VISIT the Island. Usual picture with his mouth open trying to "sell" Harper's rip off! Lucky veterans, you can now join "the line" and, if you are bed ridden, too bad... "fear mongering"' indeed more like Duffy's "snake poison". I suspect that Island veterans are not as stupid as the "salesman" and far more honest then to take a Senate salary and be a Tory puppet. Surely The Guardian must have a reporter who at least "investigates" the story he is "sold".

    • Angus
      July 28, 2012 - 10:12

      Lol - the senator from nowhere. Is he still trying to stab Olive Crane in the back and replace her with his 'old boys club' pals? You know the Tory gang of consultants and friends, who also got in on the PNP deal?

    • The Facilitator
      July 28, 2012 - 10:34

      Island Boy/Island Vet - Do you really think that a bed ridden vet would be required to go to Service Canada for service? Talk about fear mongering. You seem to be a very negative person who loves to exaggerate and awfullize. A bed ridden vet who needs service would have a case manager from Veterans Affairs make a home visit as has always been the case. Why do you try and distort the situation??? HOW SAD

  • frank
    July 27, 2012 - 18:28

    Umm, Service Canada is only open 8:30-4pm, not 9-5.

  • Island Vet
    July 27, 2012 - 18:09

    Bye the way,,,those two 'vets' in the picture with Duffy should blush in shame for selling out their "comrades",,, how much did the Legion get this time to support this plan??

  • Island Vet
    July 27, 2012 - 18:06

    Mike Duffy and the Tories are playing "smoke and mirrors". What this story really says is that those who have served our country and had injuries as a result can now join the newly arrived etc in the line at a Service Canada centre to have some bureacrat, who has no clue about Veteran's affairs, point us to a telephone which will connect us ,after a wait, to a National Call Center, where they have even less of a clue about veterans. Show "respect for veterans " ,,,Balls, ,,,just another example of Duffy collecting his "Tory" pay!!! Thanks for "selling" us out,,,next war you can go!

  • More information please
    July 27, 2012 - 16:45

    This story is confusing - first he says service canada offices are going to accept applicatons from veterans and then "It will also reduce the time it takes to make decisions on disability benefits and simply language used in the decision letters." Perhaps they could "simply language" in this story because just being able to drop off your completed application at a service canada office doesn't replace a district office which has counsellors, medical personnel, and full client service teams. How does that speed up decisions?

  • Brent Hillsborough
    July 27, 2012 - 16:35

    I actually read the story and it says five locations - not six.

  • Good decision
    July 27, 2012 - 12:56

    That is smart policy!! I am so happy for the veterans. Good for the Tories on this one. Finally some respect for the veterans. Service Canada is a great institution, provides high quality services to canadians. Employees are very professional.

    • Garth Staples
      July 27, 2012 - 19:30

      The Harper Govt has always respected our Veterans . It is only the Guardian and a few Grits who manufacture 'the sky is falling' scenarios.

    • John Garlick
      July 30, 2012 - 01:07

      The Tory government just fought Veterans in COURT... They fought us since 2007 and LOST!... They do NOT support Veterans and this is just another example of the lack of support, I suffer from Operational Stress Injury (PTSD) and cannot go into these busy places, and i'm on medication... how do you expect someone with my condition to manage this without medication? and how about those pensions they took away from us??? is that your idea of support too?

  • ScottPEI
    July 27, 2012 - 12:52

    Um - you say there are six sites but only name five: "The sites are located in Souris, Montague, Charlottetown, Summerside and O'Leary." Where is the sixth?

    • Jody
      July 27, 2012 - 15:31

      Maybe you should read the story again.

  • Good decision
    July 27, 2012 - 12:35

    That is smart policy!! I am so happy for the veterans. Good for the Tories on this one only :-). Finally some respect for the veterans. Service Canada is a great institution, provides high quality services to canadians. Employees are very professional.