More cuts to services for Canada’s veterans
The federal government is closing nine Veterans Affairs Canada district offices across the country, leaving veterans without access to in-person services, including counselling, in cities across Canada.
Offices will close on February 28, 2014, bringing the number of job cuts at Veterans Affairs to 400 since last April. The cities affected are Sydney, Nova Scotia; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Corner Brook, Newfoundland; Windsor and Thunder Bay, Ontario; Brandon, Manitoba; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and Prince George and Kelowna in British Columbia.
Veterans in these communities will be able to pick up forms at Service Canada offices, but staff there do not have expertise in veterans issues and cannot access veterans’ files. Veterans will have to rely on phone or online assistance, the latter being an unlikely option for many who do not use computers.
By 2015 Veterans Affairs says it will cut an additional 400 jobs and eliminate even more district offices. Some services once offered by the department will be taken up by private companies.
Yvan Thauvette, President of the Union of Veterans Affairs Employees, says he’s troubled by how this will affect the men and women who risked their lives for their country.
“Over the years Veterans Affairs employees have developed unique expertise to deal with the often complex needs of veterans,” said Thauvette. “These cuts make no sense and are a real slap in the face to those who have sacrificed so much for Canada.”
He says that despite the pride with which they’ve served their country, many veterans feel abandoned by a government that fails to assist when they most need it.
Returning from the dangers of active combat only to find lack of adequate support at home “feels somewhat like a betrayal,” said Corporal Sylvain Chartrand, who served under the Canadian flag in Bosnia, now one of the spokesmen for Canadian Veteran Advocacy, an organization fighting for the rights of veterans.
“We all know there are inherent risks in soldiering, but we also believe the government has a duty and responsibility to take care of its soldiers when they return home from war.”
Date Modified : 2013/01/29