© Geraldine Brophy
veterans town hall
Ottawa, Ont. The federal Veterans Affairs Minister is defending government‚Äôs decision to close offices across the country, and fighting back against a union‚Äôs accusations against it.
Julian Fantino says government has been clear in its commitment to giving veterans the services and assistance they need, where and when they need it, right across the country. He issued a statement to that Friday evening, following critcisms of the decision to close nine Veterans Affairs offices ‚ÄĒ including the one in Corner Brook.
‚ÄúContrary to the utterly false and irresponsible claims made recently by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), Veterans Affairs Canada is placing a full-time client service agent, on an ongoing basis, in the nearest Service Canada location to the eight offices that are closing,‚ÄĚ Fantino stated. ‚ÄúThis position will be there for as long as necessary in order to support veterans in the communities where they live.‚ÄĚ
Veterans and alliance representatives have been up in arms since the decision was announced, protesting it and lobbying for government to rescind the move. They have received a great deal of public support.
Earlier this week, the alliance issued a statement that government was misleading veterans about what services they will be able to access when the offices in Corner Brook, Charlottetown, Sydney, Thunder Bay, Windsor, Brandon, Saskatoon and Kelowna close next month. The Prince George office closed already, and veterans want it reopened.
Nov. 28, Fantino announced one Veterans Affairs worker would be left in a Service Canada office in each of the communities when offices close Jan. 31. But, the union claimed they since learned the measure will last just three months, and, in some cases, that one worker would only be available on a part-time basis.
The minister denied the claims.
‚ÄúBy making this unfounded allegation, this union has once again blatantly put its own interests ahead of the veterans it claims to be protecting,‚ÄĚ he stated. ‚ÄúThis reprehensible attempt to spread misinformation has impugned the reputation of a hard-working public servant, has sowed anxiety amongst Canadians and has done a serious disservice to veterans and families who deserve the utmost clarity on the services that are available to them. All options are being considered on how to address the spreading of these falsehoods.‚ÄĚ
Fantino said Veterans Affairs Canada will continue delivering on its responsibility to serve veterans and their families with the help they need.