Protest held in Charlottetown over public service cuts

Dave Stewart
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Students Sarah Frauenhoff, left and her friend Sydney Clay, came to a National Day of Action Rally in the Murphy Community Centre in Canada. The rally was held in conjunction with events across the country.

Part of National Day of Action in support of postal unions

P.E.I. NDP Leader Mike Redmond says Canada has lost its moral compass as a nation.

Redmond was speaking at a National Day of Action rally in Charlottetown on Monday designed to talk about cuts to a variety of public services, such as Veterans Affairs Canada and Canada Post.

The rally drew an estimated 50 to 60 people to Murphy’s Community Centre.

“How can it be that a country so wealthy cannot deliver mail door to door? How can it be that over 10,000 Islanders need to travel to the mainland for health care?’’ Redmond asked.

“How can we accept closures to our Veterans Affairs offices right here in Charlottetown and tell our heroes they need to travel to Saint John, N.B., for a one-on-one case worker?’’

Chris Clay, president of the postal workers union in Charlottetown, says changes to Canada Post will affect up to 50 jobs on P.E.I.

“That’s substantial,’’ Clay said. “Our membership is worried and, personally, I’m worried. I’m scared at the thought of losing my job and that’s where everybody is.’’

Those cuts will also impact Islanders with the federal government’s decision to end door-to-door delivery. It will be phased out over five years, beginning later this year.

Under the plan, announced Dec. 11, all Canadians will get mail in community mailboxes, the cost of a first-class stamp will rise to 85 cents on March 1 (up from 63 cents), operations will be streamlined and more postal services will be shifted to retail partners.

“That impacts communities across Canada,’’ Clay said. “It’s going to forever change the way people look at mail (and) it really hurts the brand, I believe.’’

Debbie Buell, speaking for the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), spoke about the cuts to Veterans Affairs.

Of the plan to eliminate more than 800 jobs across the country, 232 of the cuts will hit the headquarters operation in Charlottetown by March 2015. The district office, where veterans could get a one-on-one meeting with a case worker, will close this Friday.

“Our government is betraying veterans,’’ said Buell, who is also the national vice-president for the union representing Veterans Affairs employees. “In the face of widespread opposition, the federal government still plans to shut down Veterans Affairs offices in eight communities across Canada at the end of this week.’’

Debbie Bovyer, president of the Union of Public Sector of Employees, accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper of attacking unions.

“Most of the (Veterans Affairs) cuts apply to front-line workers so services of our veterans will continue to be compromised. Shame on Harper,’’ Bovyer said, as the crowd gathered yelled ‘Shame’ in response.

Bovyer also touched on cuts to EI, pointing to the 28 claims processing jobs cut in Montague in 2012, and cuts to Parks Canada where about 20 jobs were eliminated on P.E.I.

Leo Broderick, with the Council of Canadians, said the Harper government is making it quite obvious which direction it’s going in.

“The Harper government is going to privatize every public service that we have in this country that we’ve built up over the years,’’ Broderick said.

Redmond summed things up this way: “Our basic freedoms . . . this is what is at stake here today.’’

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

Organizations: Veterans Affairs Canada, Public Service Alliance of Canada, Canada Post Union of Public Sector of Employees Parks Canada

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Canada, Saint John

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Recent comments

  • One Question
    January 28, 2014 - 06:56

    Where is all the money going to go that's not being spent on Postal workers or DVA employees? This country is becoming unrecognizable.

  • Head Shaker
    January 27, 2014 - 23:14

    This is silly for a number of reasons. 1) This is clearly a partisan NDP event, not a grassroots protest; 2) NDP chief Mike Redmond is now running for MLA, Premier, Mayor of Charlottetown and Prime Minister... apparently? Does this guy understand the division of powers in Canada? 3) These union organizers, who are mis-allocating resources from hard-working Islanders, are accusing Harper of having a nefarious goal here.... but anyone with five minutes of political science education knows that Harper isn't involved in the decisions of a crown corporation. Send these kids back to high school social studies, will ya?

    • GiveYourOwnHeadAShake
      January 28, 2014 - 10:43

      Harper make not direct decisions on a crown corporation but he definitely controls the budget. This is his way of making sure that each government department has to deal with the fall out of decisions that he has forced them to make.

  • observer
    January 27, 2014 - 21:39

    It should read NDP rally protests cuts...fear mongering, various groups pushing their agenda,especially"Harper and his crew will be privatizing everything" ......they all want to continue the federal welfare state agenda ..strictly for votes........Most federal departments are downsizing because of increased IT in the work place..meaning you do not need the same bodies as they did 20- years ago pushing paper....OUR basic freedoms are at risk.????..what they are going to do take the Charter of Rights and Freedoms away???. Rediculous....I am a veteran..and I have NO problem with the dept for my needs or enquiries...no one wants to lose their jobs ,But you can become redundant...it happens all across the country....If the federal Liberals were elected tommorrow..with our economy in the shape it is in now(confirmed the strongest and most resilant amongst the leading powers) they would NOT change a thing... The NDP would run us into the ground like they did in BC and Nova Scotia.........this gathering was strictly political in nature.......

    • candrayo
      January 27, 2014 - 22:42

      @Observer, with all due respect to a fellow Veteran, I am surprised you do not understand that today was about US, I am a Veteran who suffers greatly from serving in many departments, and having had the luxury of enjoying some good departments. I know another Veteran who has had it pretty bad, and a whole list more just like him in this category, sprinkled with some good in their various departments over their careers. Since you were throwing around the term Veteran, I thought I would join in. In my mind if other people/organizations are willing to stand by me/Veterans and fight for my/our rights, then I am willing to help them fight for their rights as well! At the end of the day, they are one in the same! Cheers!

  • JRSPLACE
    January 27, 2014 - 20:59

    They are all lazy. They are all entitled and they all should be FIRED!

    • Tryit
      January 28, 2014 - 06:31

      Anyone who has the audacity to call my husband 'lazy', is clearly a very ignorant, meaning not very well educated, individual. These postal workers can walk up to 15 km a day or more in some cases, in extreme heat, cold, snow, rain etc. while carrying heavy loads. My husband is up at 5:30 am every morning to get ready to go to work, drives 45 minutes to get there and then 45 minutes to go home at the end of his day. This does not include any of the other things he does in the run of a day....you who would sit back and make such comments about someone who has the one of the highest work ethics I have ever seen, should get out and TRY IT yourself, before making such generalized comments about people you clearly know nothing about. Complete lack of knowledge.

    • Tme
      January 28, 2014 - 11:41

      Tryit......he drives 45 minutes a day each way to work and does the job he is paid to do. This a job for whic e applied, and he receives excellent pay and benefits. You speak as if he moves the earth evry day. he does his job which is the least that the taxpayers can expcet from all public servants. Signed, an also hard working public servent who doesn't expect accolades for doing what I am paid to do.

    • Tryit
      January 29, 2014 - 09:46

      Had the individual using the name 'Time', actually read the comment prior to mine, which I was in fact responding to, perhaps he/she, wouldn't have responded in such a manner. My comments were made to show that generally labeling people is unfair, judgmental, and quite often done in ignorance, arrogance, and with what is obviously a complete lack of any reality based facts regarding the people who are the victims of their character attacks. I was especially offended by the label of 'lazy' being used to describe Postal Workers, and of course my husband. The definition of 'lazy' is; not inclined to work or exert oneself....having said this, the reason for my original comment should now be much clearer for you 'Time', as this was the point I was focused on and disputing. There was no intent on my part to imply anything else. The simple fact is that Postal Workers, clearly can not be 'lazy', as its definition is one that states the exact opposite, of what is the actual reality of what they do every day on the job. Hope this clears it up a bit for you, and perhaps in the future you will take the extra, 'TIME', to really absorb what you read, and to be sure you fully understand the information at hand, and any related details, prior to you putting forth your opinion about what it is you think someone else meant, was implying, or was suggesting with their comment.