UPDATE: Federal MP thinks 'tweaking' possible on DVA office in Charlottetown

Dave Stewart
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Department of Veterans Affairs

The federal opposition critic for Veterans Affairs told The Guardian today he thinks Ottawa may be willing to compromise on the district office in Charlottetown.

“My sense is that government will not reverse its decision but I suspect they may tweak something,’’ said Peter Stoffer, a NDP MP from Nova Scotia.

“The inkling I’m getting is that maybe one of the offices (at headquarters in Charlottetown) that they may allow a DVA official to work in there instead of Services Canada.’’

P.E.I. veteran Alban LeClair is going to get a chance to plead his case with the federal minister of Veterans Affairs tonight at 6 p.m. AT.

The Guardian took part on a conference call with LeClair and six other veterans from across Canada hoping to convince the federal government to reverse its decision to close nine district offices across the country.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada has been helping the veterans, who travelled to Ottawa this week, to get a face-to-face meeting with Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino.

Fantino said on Monday he would meet with the veterans but didn’t want members of PSAC to attend the meeting.

Fantino will meet with LeClair and the other veterans tonight in Ottawa.

LeClair told The Guardian this morning that before the federal government began closing the district office in Charlottetown a veteran could get a home visit within a couple of days.

“Now it takes up to six weeks to contact a veteran and six weeks is a long time for a 93-year-old veteran, even for the young veterans suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder),’’ LeClair said.

District offices in Charlottetown, Sydney, N.S.; Corner Brook, N.L.; Kelowna, B.C.; Saskatoon, Sask.; Brandon, Man.; Thunder Bay, Ont.; and Windsor, Ont., are scheduled to shut down on Friday. The office in Prince George, B.C., closed a year ago.

“Losing the office we (have) in P.E.I. is devastating to our veterans and I hope this government will change its mind and reverse the decision that has made the closure of the district offices.’’

There are an estimated 800,000 veterans across Canada. Case workers in the district offices serve an estimated 206,000 of them.

Stoffer said the truth isn’t that Fantino’s department has been told to cut costs and that now it will take much longer for veterans to receive help.

“In order to have a home visit you have to be case managed,'' the federal MP said. "In order to be case managed you have to set up an appointment either in an office for someone to come to you or call the 1-800 number. They look at your file, then they get back to you in two to five business days and then someone gets back to you and then, maybe, if the case manager has time, they'll get back to you and possibly arrange a time to come see you.''

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

Organizations: Veterans Affairs, Public Service Alliance of Canada

Geographic location: Ottawa, P.E.I., Canada Charlottetown Sydney Corner Brook Kelowna Saskatoon Sask. Thunder Bay Windsor Prince George

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  • hrcbear
    January 29, 2014 - 14:47

    The fact of the matter is that the closing of the office has been going on slowly for 2 or 3 years and the traffic has not been very much. I think they had 12 people at first. Its how its perceived that's been the problem. They could have a meeting office on the main floor of the DJM building and have someone on call in the upper offices come down and speak to whoever is making inquiries. As it is that's exactly what the Bureau of Pension Advocates are doing, owing to the retirement of the lawyer at the Pension Advocates office in the District office. Her office is and has been comletely closed for months and the 350 active files that she had been working on have been transferred to their office in the DJM Building and other lawyers there are picking up the cases as needed. Across Canada 19 lawyers face mandatory retirement over the next few years and will not be replaced. The fact is 30,000 troops served in Afghanistan in the past 11 or 12 years and the VAC offices near their Bases are overloaded and need extra help, wereas the older Vets are dying off at a great rate, sorry to say.

  • Proud Veteran
    January 28, 2014 - 11:23

    We need to temporarily halt Parliament, give these politicians 10 weeks training, and deploy them for 6 months. Some will come back requiring the services of the Veterans Affairs. Maybe then they will understand. Wait, our Military is regarded around the world as caring, intelligent and professional. On second thought...never mind...they couldn't do the job.

  • David Griffin
    January 28, 2014 - 11:12

    Good luck Alban Le Clair and all the other in Ottawa. This fight by the Veterans is disgraceful and shameful to have to go to this degree before Politician decide to leave the Veterans alone. This Fantino guy was in Police Services for years and now Politics and make no mistake about he is the middle man for Harper. The Prime Minister should be asshamed of these actions. If it was not for all the Veterans who paid the ultimate sacrifice we would not be where we are today. All living Veterans and their families should be given all the security, health benifits etc that they are righfully entitled to. Stop the BS with your Politics and pick on someone else. There will always be some picked on by Government because how would they justify their positions. This is exactly what they feel. Unbelievable. Please let the public know how your meeting goes because you Veterans have alot of support from the public. One only has to look at the large attendance at Rememberance Day celebrations in recent years to see many have not forgotten. So Mr Harper, back off with this foolishness against Veterans and their families.