Shea defends vote against keeping Veterans Affairs office open

Teresa Wright
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Egmont MP Gail Shea in her Charlottetown office

P.E.I. is now the only province without a Veterans Affairs district office, but both the NDP and the Liberals in Ottawa say they’ll continue their fight to have it reopened.

Earlier this week, the Conservative majority in the House of Commons defeated an NDP motion calling for the government to keep eight Veterans Affairs district offices across the country, including P.E.I.’s, open.

Fisheries Minister and P.E.I. MP Gail Shea voted with her colleagues against keeping the offices.

She said there are many areas in the country that do not have regional offices and stressed there are other options for veterans to access services in Prince Edward Island.

“These offices were the least busy offices, so they had a full response team but yet they didn’t have a very big caseload,” Shea said.

“It wasn’t to take services away from veterans, because what they have done is that they have taken a Veterans Affairs employee who is well-versed in veterans’ programs and put them at Service Canada in Charlottetown, so that’s one point of contact.”

An access centre has also been established in Charlottetown at the VAC department headquarters where an employee will be made available to assist veterans looking for services. A toll-free number and website are also available for at-home access, and if home visits are necessary, they too will happen, Shea said.

“So there are many points of service, many ways that veterans can access service,” she said.

“I know that change is always difficult, but you know, governments have to change things all the time because we have to respond to the need and it’s our job to spend taxpayers’ money as efficiently as we can.”

But Opposition Veterans Affairs critic Peter Stoffer said Shea is not doing her job as the government representative responsible for Prince Edward Island.

“I’d sure like to know what she said in defence of that office, and although I can’t speak for her, it probably wasn’t much,” said Stoffer, an NDP MP. “She probably just went along with the cabinet decision and that’s it.”

Stoffer maintains the loss of this office, coupled with the hundreds of job cuts in the department, will mean a major loss of services for veterans.

“If anyone believes that you’re going to get better service by cutting millions of dollars out of the DVA budget and getting rid of very highly trained, skilled professionals and moving them into so-called Service Canada offices … they’re wrong.”

All three of P.E.I.’s Liberal MPs voted in favour of the NDP’s motion.

Charlottetown MP Sean Casey has been active in fighting the cuts to VAC and closure of the district office in Charlottetown.

He pointed to the explosive meeting last week with seven veterans for which Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino was 70 minutes late. Fantino stormed out of the meeting after being challenged by the vets.

“Sadly we have a minister who seems incapable of showing compassion and what’s even sadder is, it reflects, in my view, the attitude of the government,” Casey said.

“We have a government that is single-mindedly focused on balancing the budget and everything else is secondary and that’s why Veterans Affairs has been targeted for cuts.”

Both the federal Liberal and NDP leaders have vowed to reopen the district offices if they win the next election.

But Shea accused both parties of playing politics with veterans.

“It doesn’t help the situation any, I don’t believe, and I don’t believe it looks good on any political party to be using veterans over issues like this because we owe a great deal to our veterans and we have to ensure they get the services that they need.”

Organizations: Veterans Affairs, NDP, Service Canada House of Commons VAC department Liberal MPs

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Ottawa, Charlottetown VAC

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Recent comments

  • Kevin Kelly
    February 06, 2014 - 23:09

    Who would ever consider voting for MS Shea again. She turned her back on Islanders to further her own career. She has been a useless voice for PEI and needs to be sent packing at the next election, one that cannot come soon enough.

  • blair penny
    February 06, 2014 - 22:03

    gail shea fighting hard for pei again lol. what a waste of space she is harpers lapdog strikes again how does she look at herself in the mirror she should be ashamed of herself heaven knows we r

  • aongasha
    February 06, 2014 - 21:52

    There go the typical Islanders - can't see the forest for the trees. An overloaded civil service at VA using your money and vets to keep their cushy do nothing jobs. And the opposition buying your votes with your own money. No wonder the pogey is such a sacred cow to you folks - no ambition to do anything for yourselves. - just gimme gimme gimme and vote for whoever promises you the most. In the old days you all would have caved for a pint of rum!

    February 06, 2014 - 19:57

    Leave the veterans services alone , scrap the Canada Action Ads and senseless Harper tours to other countries especially Israel .Do not get us bogged down in this religious bickering and than start dishing orders to the same people you are scrooging .

  • Gail Shea is doomed,
    February 06, 2014 - 19:10

    It's just sickening the way. Harper and this coup is ruining our great country, With Harper cutting. Jobs to save money, collect the money the so called senators wasted like Duffy, Wallin and the rest then no government offices should have to close,lets remember Gail Shea when the election is called.....NOT.

  • Charlie Brown
    February 06, 2014 - 15:10

    Gee,the maple leaf is red,this can't be "stepehn harpers" canada or it would be tory blue. We just knew how you would vote gail.

  • David
    February 06, 2014 - 14:52

    The other parties have vowed to re-open the offices have they? Lets just recall how Jean Chretien VOWED to get rid of the GST if he was elected in the early 90's. MMMMMM funny how we still have the GST 20 years after he was first elected. Closing these offices was the smart thing to do as the number of veterans and users has declined drastically. For some reason Veterans who are nothing more then former Government employees ( who actually didn't have to qualify for anything to be originally hired) seem to think they should have everything and much more then average taxpayer is entitled too. The services were not needed to the level they were at so save the hardworking taxpayers some money and close some of these offices. As a taxpayer( the people who PAY to keep these offices open) I am happy to see the offices close if they were not needed.

    February 06, 2014 - 12:56

    Gail, Do you listen to yourself speaking? In this article you state we owe the vets and need to ensure they get what they need and yet you voted to take away what they need. PICK ONE you can't use both views.

  • Al
    February 06, 2014 - 12:52

    Gail knows that most taxpayers are behind. Her .doing a good job.

  • Platinus
    February 06, 2014 - 12:21

    Hey Garth S. - You have anything to add to Gail's rhetoric ?

  • Concerned
    February 06, 2014 - 11:28

    I certainly hope Shea takes that same concern for efficient use of taxpayer dollars to the cabinet table when discussing the advertising (spin) budget for things like the Canada Job Grant! It will also be interesting to see the overtime budget and wait times for services at DVA. Also interesting to hear her lecturing the opposition parties for politicking on the veterans backs, when Minister Fantino made it quite clear to veterans that they should get used to waiting.

  • Jon
    February 06, 2014 - 11:27

    Let's call a spade a spade...Harper told her to vote against it so she did. In return, she'll get some dollars to waste in her riding so she looks like she's doing great things for her riding.

  • my thoughts
    February 06, 2014 - 11:27

    if the jobs were located in Tignish area, she would have a different opinion on this

    February 06, 2014 - 11:25

    Unbelievable Shea says "it’s our job to spend taxpayers’ money as efficiently as we can.” Just After Stevie and his Entourage wasted 200 million during His trip to Israel. The real sad part about this is that I think Gail and the rest of Harper's Puppets Are starting to believe what " They are told to say" From the Dictators office. The next election can't come fast enough for me.

  • Wade
    February 06, 2014 - 11:19

    Gail you have did this time and time again always follow Mr Harper and never voting to help the people that vote you in Shame on you Gail

  • Tigger
    February 06, 2014 - 11:10

    This is what happens when you have a pention coming from the PEI gov and now one from the FEDS , she became above us common folk in West Prince and for that matter all of PEI, WE WONT FORGET WHEN IT COMES TIME TO MARK OUR X HERE IN WEST PRINCE GAIL FOR THE NEXT ELECTION............ I WILL NEVER VOTE FOR YOU AGAIN

    • No worries
      February 06, 2014 - 13:50

      Your revelations are a little too late. She won't run again. You should have realized what Harper was like before you voted for him. He is a control freak and she is his puppet just like the rest of them. When you vote, you vote for the leader because the MLAs and MPs do exactly what they are told. There are no more free thinkers in politics who stand up for the citizens they represent. Those days are over.

  • don
    February 06, 2014 - 10:25

    shea how dare you shame the people that faught to give you the freedom that you have today. i would love to put you and the rest of your group in uniforms and give you a taste of WW2 and see how you think then. and to me and i'm sure lots of others are disguested with you. and to think the money you are making and spending on air fair how many times a week? and how many offices do you have on PEI? close them all but one.

    February 06, 2014 - 09:25

    Gail, you say there are many AREAS in Canada with an office. HOW MANY PROVINCES ARE WITHOUT AN OFFICE? Just keep bowing down to your leader and forget about the people that voted for you because we will certainly forget you in the next election. You are a disgrace to all the veterans that live on PEI.

  • PleaseResign
    February 06, 2014 - 09:23

    I thought Ms. Shea was elected to represented the people of Prince Edward Island. She represents only one person and we all know who that is. Please resign and go back to the GST centre... and I sincerely hope when cuts are made there, that your position which has been vacant for years, is considered one to go as they obviously do not need you. Wonder how you would feel about that cut?

  • Change
    February 06, 2014 - 09:06

    Gail Shea is the worst partisan politician the Island has ever seen. Change is not always difficult as she says. I am sure most of us could accept a change from this Harper government and her seat changed as well. She has never spoken up for Atlantic Canada ever, only speaks the words she is told to speak. Clear for anyone to see.

  • candrayo
    February 06, 2014 - 08:40

    Gail…….if we can afford to party…we can afford a Veterans office on PEI. Please do not try to preach to the rest of us about how you guys are working based on priorities. We simply know that is not the case…we are reminded regularly where the government is willing to give the money….and it is not for the good of the people either. You may believe your own lies………and that Gail…is a personal problem. No more excuses….you are already proven to be "just another politician"…..

  • Adolphus
    February 06, 2014 - 08:40

    Shame, shame, shame. Gail, since you obviously do whatever the party or prime minister tells you what to do you may as well get out of politics.

    • don
      February 06, 2014 - 10:29

      gail is a little puppet she does as she is told or else. i can not see any difference between the liberal party and the pc party. they are all out for themselves. they fight in public then behind closed door they drink and party on OUR MONEY.

    • don
      February 06, 2014 - 10:41

      Liberal and NDP leaders have vowed to reopen the district offices if they win the next election. All talk now but it is an election ploy.  Shea accused both parties of playing politics with veterans. Talk about 2 face gail you say the ndp and liberals are playing politics with our vets lol what in hell do you think you are doing? You are no better then the ndp, liberals. All 3 are a disgrace to canada. one leader lies,one uses drugs knowing he is breaking the law and the 3rd does not count. I hope the people in your riding is proud of you as you are doing the same as ghiz looking out for the rich and you know that you can not prove that is not true.