Veterans Affairs likely to face job cuts

Teresa Wright
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters in Charlottetown

Employees of Veterans Affairs in Charlottetown will likely be hit hard by public service job cuts announced as part of Thursday’s federal budget.

Rumors about deep job cuts at the federal department headquarters in the capital have been circling for months in advance of Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s austerity budget.

On Thursday, Flaherty only broadly outlined that 19,200 federal jobs are to be cut over the next three years, but gave no indication of where these jobs will be lost except they will be mainly in “national capital region” and that regional positions will be mostly untouched.

But details within the budget document show Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) will see a spending cut of $36.1 million this fiscal year. Cuts will continue next year with a further reduction of $49.3 million in 2013-2014 and another $66.7 million in 2014-2015.

When asked if VAC employees in Charlottetown would be safe due to Flaherty’s assertion that regional jobs will be unaffected by upcoming cuts, P.E.I. MP and National Revenue Minister Gail Shea did not offer much hope.

“With Veterans Affairs it’s a bit of a different situation because all other head offices of the departments are in Ottawa with the exception of Veterans Affairs which is in Charlottetown,” Shea said in an interview.

“The bulk of the staff would be in Prince Edward Island, so it’s in a bit of a different situation.

Liberal Veterans Affairs critic and Charlottetown MP Sean Casey said the cuts contained in the budget equate to a 10 per cent slash to VAC’s spending for employees and salaries.

“Our worst fears have materialized. The budget’s bad news for P.E.I.,” Casey said.

He plans to hold the Harper government to its word in saying that regional positions would be spared the axe.

“I will be watching them like a hawk to make sure that paragraph holds true… I hope the words on the page mean what they say and say what they mean.”

But Jody LaPierre, provincial director for the Public Service Alliance of Canada who also works for VAC, said he recognizes the Veterans Affairs headquarters in Charlottetown will likely bear the brunt of any imminent job cuts.

And this will be deeply damaging to services, he said.

“At Veterans Affairs here in P.E.I., they’re cut to the bone with attrition taking place now, people leaving and the jobs not being replaced,” LaPierre said.

“It just cannot sustain any more cuts without affecting the services provided to the clients, the veterans.”

Veterans Affairs has already identified 500 positions for elimination over the next four years due to a strategic review performed last year aimed at reducing department spending.

Debbi Buell, the national vice president for Charlottetown for the Union of Veterans Employees, says any further reduction on their already lowered staffing levels will lead to poor service delivery for veterans.

“We’ve had several austerity measures over the past couple of years so it’s coming now to the perfect storm where people who are eligible to retire, not saying they will, but once they do those jobs are gone. They won’t be replaced,” Buell said.

“It’s definitely going to affect service in Charlottetown and across the country… the workers at Veterans Affairs care very deeply for our clients but you can only do so much when you keep getting workload upon workload.”

Federal officials have maintained benefits for veterans will not be affected by any austerity measures imposed on the department.

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

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Ottawa, Prince Edward Island

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Spouse
    April 02, 2012 - 15:14

    First off, I am married to an employee of DVA in Charlottetown. Since most making the comments seem to have no idea how the Federal Gov't hiring process works here goes... First, get educated. My spouse has a bachelors and a masters degree, that she paid for herself. She studied and worked full time to get them. Then she went here to look for a job: http://jobs-emplois.gc.ca/index-eng.htm Then she applied (not with a phone call to your MLA), with a well written application and letter of intent. Then she waited, and hope for a screening test. The test took well over an hour. Then she hoped for an interview. Another hour plus. Then she got into a "pool" where at some time she hoped her good education, work experience, interview and attributes would land her the job! This is not quite the same gig as giving your local MLA a ring for the seasonal patronage/job for your "weeks" this year. Jobs, when opened for "external" hiring are just that "external." You, me, whoever outside those currently employed in the Fed Public Service can apply. Keep your eyes and go for it when an opportunity presents itself! Everyone's wage is determined by the national rate that all employees get across the country based on their level. In some areas people do not apply for Gov't jobs because they do not pay enough. Therefore the jobs are paid in ranges, just like the ones we were privy to via the hick-rag last week. To get a Federal Gov't job can be a long process. Yes some people have family members who work there, but the hiring process is the same. If you have family who give you tips on how to land the job then great, but it is not a family member who circumvents the process and gets you a job via patronage. Lastly, it is embarrasing how a discussion about Federal Gov't jobs devolves into a provincial patronage and PNP discussion!

  • scott
    March 31, 2012 - 14:33

    Garth, sounds like I hit a nerve pointing out the truth to you. The truth always hurts they say, so here's a bit more for you...your the biggest flagwaver there is, of any party.... Strangely enough, when your beloved leader Olive stuck her foot in her mouth on the 2 % raise, you were no where to be seen... why was that Garth, is it because there was absolutely excuse, for what she said? We have yet to see what your "thoughts" were on that, or how you can spin that. A friend of mine, very active in the conservative party, actually roll's his eyes when I bring up your name to him, and tease him... apparently the tory brass dont think a great deal of your comments either.... so, Garth, GET A LIFE.

  • Another Islander, Another Opinion
    March 30, 2012 - 19:59

    All wage information is public knowledge to anyone who wants it, as it should be. We, the taxpayers, are paying the wages or did everyone forget that? I have to agree that some of the wages are high and I have to agree that some of these positions at DVA are patronage positions. Having said that, I don't want to see anyone lose their jobs especially in these economic times. It creates more competition for those already searching for work. I can't see where most of these jobs will be cut due to retirements. Perhaps a voluntary wage decrease would have been better. DVA and other federal government employees (all over Canada) should have the option to choose a temporary wage decrease until the "books are balanced". During this time, positions will be eliminated through retirements and other voluntary methods. It may take 5 years or so but people will be able to keep their jobs. To better understand what I am saying, get a graphic and study the wages yourself. A student placed in DVA can make up to 38,000 dollars a year. With a 10% decrease in salary, the student is still making a nice chunk of change...more than some families (with a home, car, kids etc) survive on. Of course, there will be some saying how they deserve the wages they get. Even some may say they get too little. We all think we are worth more than we make but these are hard times and instead of complaining, try offering solutions that will benefit everyone.

  • Another Islander, Another Opinion
    March 30, 2012 - 19:52

    All wage information is public knowledge to anyone who wants it, as it should be. We, the taxpayers, are paying the wages or did everyone forget that? I have to agree that some of the wages are high and I have to agree that some of these positions at DVA are patronage positions. Having said that, I don't want to see anyone lose their jobs especially in these economic times. It creates more competition for those already searching for work. I can't see where most of these jobs will be cut due to retirements. Perhaps a voluntary wage decrease would have been better. DVA and other federal government employees (all over Canada) should have the option to choose a temporary wage decrease until the "books are balanced". During this time, positions will be eliminated through retirements and other voluntary methods. It may take 5 years or so but people will be able to keep their jobs. To better understand what I am saying, get a graphic and study the wages yourself. A student placed in DVA can make up to 38,000 dollars a year. With a 10% decrease in salary, the student is still making a nice chunk of change...more than some families (with a home, car, kids etc) survive on. Of course, there will be some saying how they deserve the wages they get. Even some may say they get too little. We all think we are worth more than we make but these are hard times and instead of complaining, try offering solutions that will benefit everyone.

  • Garth Staples
    March 30, 2012 - 19:28

    NITPICKER----------listen to the people. Not the coffee.

  • scott
    March 30, 2012 - 17:28

    Garth, yes fish plant workers were hit hard... all because of binns and his sweetheart deals.... at tpw, Binns put way too many to "work".... half do nothing but watch the other half work...

    • Garth Staples
      March 30, 2012 - 19:24

      And SCOTT--pls comment on the 250 low income workers being laid off by the GRIT GHIZ GOVT. Get a life SCOTT----other than as a GRIT flagwaver--oophs--you might be laid off. Check it out.

  • NOT ABOUT VETERANS
    March 30, 2012 - 15:17

    These cutbacks are not about veterans. The cuts are about a group of overpaid underworked self centered individuals who could care less about veterans. They have been and are still there for their over inflated pay cheques. Too bad those who support them are not veterans. Then you could see first hand how these people really treat veterans. Many veterans who were injured on duty will not even apply because they know the humility they must put up with from this bunch. Would you ask for assistance from people who treat you like a piece of dirt on their shoes.?

    • Rick
      January 18, 2013 - 08:32

      I agree with this commenter. Workers are grossly overpaid, its all about who you know in Charlottetown. I know several people who work at DVA and they have lower skill sets than people who work for private companies.

  • You sound ridiculous
    March 30, 2012 - 13:01

    Casey has never had a positive thought..let alone a comment!

  • ouch
    March 30, 2012 - 11:29

    These cuts are bad bad news for PEI. They provide a lot of money for our economy no matter what way you look at it. Businesses downtown will be hit hard.

  • Casey himself is bad news
    March 30, 2012 - 11:03

    Grandstanding and hoopla from Casey is all we get, surely he has no sense of shame. In the same paper today we see members of his law firm denying the public's right to know about a program he used to enrich himself, his family and friends. Absolute gaul and an absence of shame. DVA will face cuts just like the other 19,000 jobs being cut in Ottawa, what did you expect?

  • SO SAD
    March 30, 2012 - 10:59

    Counldn't happen to a better bunch of self centered, obnoxious individuals. My opinion only of course.

  • Cornwall Dude
    March 30, 2012 - 10:00

    I notice that Mike Duffy is being vewy, vewy qwiet about all this. Step up, Mikey!

  • Garth Staples
    March 30, 2012 - 09:43

    Fishplant workers were hit pretty hard in Souris. Remember? Ghiz is laying off 250 in one Dept!

  • dond easterner
    March 30, 2012 - 09:34

    from eastern graphic march,28 isn't it wonderful to see all the families that work together at veterans affairs charlottetown,(husbands,wifes,daughters,brothers) ,the large number of employees is one thing but how fortunate to have the whole family working there when the rest of us couldn't get a job no matter what their education. i know lots of islanders who would do the job for half their wages!!! do any of you really think you are worth the wage, Greeeeedy

    • informed human being
      March 30, 2012 - 12:44

      dond easterner, you are embarrassing yourself with your ignorance. And since you brought it up, has the illustrious individual who published those employees names & salaries for the sole purpose of inciting hate offered to publish his/her salary?

    • Slip
      March 30, 2012 - 16:01

      You got that right!

  • budget watcher
    March 30, 2012 - 09:08

    I listened to the CFCY radio news this morning. Lots of coverage about the potential federal government job cuts in PEI, but apparently all the losses will be felt in Charlottetown alone as they only mentioned ACOA, DVA, and DFO. I thought it was interesting that there was no mention of any departmental impact outside the city. I guess the budget cuts at CRA won't be felt in PEI, huh? One island...One community, huh? http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/budget/infographic-your-2012-federal-budget-explained/article2384109/

  • johnthames
    March 30, 2012 - 09:02

    “Our worst fears have materialized. The budget’s bad news for P.E.I.,” Casey said. The real problem is that we keep electing liberals who try and create fear and distort the truth. Mr. Casey has added very little to this issue other than to incite panic among employees. We should have at least elected a member of the official opposition or a government member. We are getting what we deserve and will continue to get if we attach ourselves to the rotten ship liberal as it sinks beneath the waves for all time. Most of the rats have bailed at the federal level, it's the provincial level next when the PNP list is released (not) and we all see Mr. Ghiz's friends and relatives made of with millions. To me a Veteran is a person of honour, unlike most of our politicians.

    • nitpicker
      March 30, 2012 - 16:46

      How do you elect someone who will know be at least a member of the opposition? Crystal ball?