“Why do we as veterans have to beg?” says Roy Lamore, a Canadian Second World War veteran. He and military veterans from more recent Canadian missions were in Ottawa Tuesday (January 28) to convince the federal government not to shut down nine Veterans Affairs offices across Canada.
The federal government has already closed one office in Prince George, in the Pacific coast province of British Columbia, and plans to close eight more on Jan. 31.
The government says the services will still be available online via the Internet. But the website isn’t easy to navigate, Bruce Moncur, a 29-year-old who served in Afghanistan told CBC News.
“Something that I could have gone to the office for, that would have taken 10 minutes to get, ended up taking me a week. And that’s indicative too of what’s happening with these closures is that the service is going to [be] even slower. I never thought it would be possible, but it is,” he said.
A group of seven veterans will be meeting with Canada’s Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino Tuesday evening.
A press conference earlier in the day was organized by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) which represents some of the staff in the Veterans Affairs offices.
“These closures are betraying our veterans everywhere,” said PSAC member Michelle Bradley who has worked for Veterans Affairs since 2001.
PSAC’s National Vice-President Chris Aylward said he has been encouraged to see so many Canadians speaking out on the issue.
“I am proud of our members for standing with the veterans they serve, and I am encouraged to see Canadians standing up for veterans too,” said Aylward. “Let’s hope the government shows them the same respect.”
CBC News – Veterans in Ottawa to fight service cuts across Canada – here
Public Service Alliance of Canada press release – Veterans speak out on eve of Veterans Affairs office closures – here