Veterans Affairs announces 55 job cuts

Ryan Ross
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Veterans Affairs Canada

It was the news Veterans Affairs Canada employees knew was eventually coming and on Thursday 55 employees learned their jobs were being cut in P.E.I.

Debi Buell, a spokeswoman for the Union of Veterans Affairs Employees, said they likely won’t be the last with the department still planning to cut about 800 more across the country.

“There’s still more coming,” she said.

Those numbers were disputed later Thursday by a spokesperson for VAC in Ottawa who told The Guardian: “Not a single job was lost today in P.E.I.”

Janice Summerby, a VAC media relations adviser, said while 233 letters were sent to officials across the country, in P.E.I. only 22 positions are impacted.

“Currently there are approximately 135 staff in P.E.I. eligible to retire. We expect that the vast majority of those positions in P.E.I. will be addressed through attrition, alternation and good human resource management,” said Summerby.

Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) held meetings across the country Thursday, first with managers notifying staff whose jobs were affected or made surplus. A second series of meetings were held to provide all VAC employees with information about the cuts. In Charlottetown, VAC held the meetings at the Murphy’s Community Centre.

The cuts were part of a previously announced plan to eliminate federal public sector jobs in an effort to balance the books.

Buell said the cuts in Charlottetown include eight at the district office and another 47 at the department’s headquarters. The department plans to close eight district offices across the country and announced it would do so by Feb. 28, 2014, she said.

"It's a pretty gloomy day." Debi Buell, Union of Veterans Affairs Employees

Buell said there were 233 letters given out Thursday to affected employees across the country.

“It’s a pretty gloomy day,” she said.

Federal job cuts have been on the minds of many Islanders, including people within the provincial government, the City of Charlottetown and the two largest unions that represent federal employees who commissioned a study of their impact. That study found federal job cuts could cost P.E.I.’s economy up to $60 million. Another study the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released in November expected P.E.I. to lose 446 federal civil service jobs by 2015.

Buell said some of the affected employees may be able to find jobs within the department or elsewhere within the federal civil service, but once the positions are cut they are gone.

“In the economy of Prince Edward Island that’s not good because it makes your future look a little less bright for sure when these days happen and you get people getting letters like this,” she said.

“It hits home pretty hard.”

Organizations: Veterans Affairs Canada, Union of Veterans Affairs Employees, Canadian Centre

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • Be careful what you ask for
    January 19, 2013 - 02:28

    I am always bewildered with the comments I see from people who are supposedly educated enough to use a computer. Jobs with the Federal Government don't come with a welcome tag because you 'know' somebody or you have a family member who can vouch for you. Every public servant has to qualify for their particular job and if they don't, they don't. I am weary reading the whinings of adults that I would place in a child's category - waahh I didn't get the job (most of the time, that is misspelled too) - they're paid too much (waaah I want the money) - ha ha ha glad it's happening about time for all the loafers who we are paying the wages of (guess what - if it weren't for us, you would not have any of the benefits you think you so richly deserve!) Wake up people - if Harper's plan to slash the public service happens, you will be at the mercy of the private sector ($$$$$ driven) - good luck with that. Maybe all the naysayers should take a step back - really look at what is going on and re-evaluate with real facts.

    • SAP
      January 20, 2013 - 15:53

      I have no problem with anyone having a good paying job, more jobs should have a living wage. The issue I have is with assuming the jobs should stay, just because it's good for our economy. These jobs are paid for by taxes, and there should be enough people to do the job, not more. The only problem with cuts, are that they are made to those easiest to cut, and should be happening all the way up to the PMO. Provincial governments should do the same,

  • unbelievable
    January 18, 2013 - 18:17

    Is it Pete or Chicken Little, 138 eligible to retire and 22 positions being reduced, do the math, that is 6 vacancies for every job reduced. so because the "experts" were so wrong they have to say.....wait for 3 years, then you will see. In 3 years there will be more vacancies through retirements.

  • Hard worker
    January 18, 2013 - 13:22

    @Pete you are right on the nail there not going to get any better .

  • Gerry
    January 18, 2013 - 12:40

    Obviously, there are some very twisted minds out there. For the past week some (minority) commentors have been criticizing the government for declining EI to those who willingly quit their jobs with the expectation of not having to seek employment because the prevlaence of the engrained "I'll just claim EI" mentality still exists on PEI . Yet, when government employees (provincial or federal) are being forced out of their jobs, it appears to be (by a few sick-minded folks) acceptable. News flash, these employees (who just may be your family members, friends, neighours) do want to work; provide for their families; and contribute to society versus taking from.

    • tim tebow
      January 18, 2013 - 14:13

      you mean to tell me that living off of pogey isn't the great job going???? darn...

    • Bill Kays
      Bill Kays
      January 18, 2013 - 16:08

      Government is at least twice as big as it should be, and probably costs us 10 times more than it should just to sustain the beast that it has become. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, Gerry, even you. These particular jobs are needed not only by the veterans but the Island as a whole. You see, this is what is wrong with socialism. The sooner we get off the federal tit the better off we will be. The feds have us relying on them instead of ourselves. Of course, there is not a lot of sympathy for government workers because in general they are overpaid. You need to fire the bums at the top of the government food chain, get rid of the bureaucrats and their lavish salaries, expense accounts, pensions, etc and leave a little gravy for the rest of Canada.

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    January 18, 2013 - 11:26

    The government is finally telling us that it can no longer afford to pay the salaries, benefits, etc. (sustain itself). What it isn't doing is cutting jobs from the top instead of from the bottom. If I could fire ten people at the top I could probably save 100 jobs at the bottom. But it is the ones at the top that are making the decisions so are they going to fire themselves or cut their own salaries and benefits? I think not. First I would look at who is being paid the most at Veterans Affairs and do my best to cut the salaries of these overpaid fools by half. THIS IS HOW GOVERNMENTS HAVE FAILED THROUGHOUT HISTORY. They fail to do what is right due to self preservation. The system no longer works.

  • JohnW.A.Curtis
    January 18, 2013 - 11:25

    The more government jobs cut the more island politicians have to find private sector jobs. People now have to stop voting for 14 week pogey politicians.

  • john h bernard
    January 18, 2013 - 10:53

    I have friends who work at dva and they brag about not doing nothing and getting to leave when they want and only 22 out of 1000.

  • John
    January 18, 2013 - 09:39

    Who care's? I've worked there on term for 2 years, they don't do a thing. 15% of the employees work while 85% chat, gossip and eat eat eat while getting $23.65 an hour.

  • G-Man
    January 18, 2013 - 09:25

    Some of these job cuts involve people that are NOT ready to retire. They will lose their only livelyhood. There many people elligible to retire, but won't (for their own reasons). Maybe some of these employees that elligible to retire will rethink what they are actually doing to other employees by staying on at VAC, and see the big picture.

  • frustratedwithgov't
    January 18, 2013 - 08:52

    I can think of many more things to trim within VAC than the jobs at the District Office. These folks are the front line contact with clients. They go beyond the chains that have restrained them from providing personal service to veterans to ensure that their clients received prompt and quality, caring service. The VIP program, designed in the 80's, to keep people in their homes, is pretty hard for a lay person to figure out how to access in a timely fashion, let alone find out WHAT they are entitled to. The contracting out of services such as nursing assessments, and Dr.s and having to call a 1800 # to even find someone to talk to (cause you can't call them directly) not how the program was designed to deal with older veterans needing care in their homes. Neither was it the intention of VIP back then to close the only office in PEI, and move case managed cases and all others to places like Saint John Nfld. At a time, the Mission statement of the Department was that employees were second to the veteran clients. I wonder what the misson statement says now...cause neither one seem to be priority. Perhaps Mr. Harper should be asked personally to write the mission statement, and then be made to have his pay attached to how well he achieves these promises. Maybe he could talk to my 93 yr old Dad, whose family is trying to keep him at home til his last days, and explain why all this is a good thing.

  • Joe Citizen
    January 18, 2013 - 08:31

    Crisis, no, opportunity yes! Gives these people a chance to have a job they actually like. For instance, a job that doesn't suck the life blood out of you worrying about losing your crappy job.

  • Hard worker
    January 18, 2013 - 08:03


  • Garth Staples
    January 18, 2013 - 08:00

    So Mr Ryan how many jobs were cut on PEI yesterday? Did it require all the ink?

  • unbelievable
    January 17, 2013 - 21:41

    The union said it would be hundreds, the Premier said it would be hundreds, Mayor Lee said it would be hundreds, Sean Casey said it would be hundreds, Gail Shea said it would be managed through attrition and retirements. 22 positions out of 1000 employees, there will be that many people out sick next week, Chicken Little still rules.

    • Pete
      January 18, 2013 - 11:13

      "UNBELIEVABLE", you do realize that this is only the first wave of cuts, don't you? Stay tuned over the next 3 years.