© Guardian file photo
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.''