The NDP Critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship—along with a small group of politicians—travelled to Vegreville on Wednesday, July 19 to sit down with affected workers from the Vegreville Case Processing Centre (CPC).
The travelling contingent included: Jenny Kwan, NDP MP for Vancouver East and Critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Linda Duncan, NDP MP for Edmonton Strathcona, Shannon Stubbs, Conservative MP for Lakeland, Jessica Littlewood, NDP MLA for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, and Marianne Hladun, PSAC Regional Executive Vice-President, Prairie.
The meeting was scheduled with the local union members, Vegreville mayor Myron Hayduk and all of the town councillors to discuss the impact of the CPC closure. All parties had an opportunity to express their concerns in their first face-to-face exchange and the group committed to continuing to work together.
Jessica Littlewood spoke to the province’s commitment to contribute to enhanced post-secondary opportunities in the Vegreville and surrounding areas—one of the main concerns cited by the department for the closure of the CPC. Myron Hayduk said the town has approved re-zoning to address access to housing which is another one of department’s concerns about the viability of keeping the CPC in Vegreville.
MPs Jenny Kwan and Shannon Stubbs agreed to work together to draw attention to the issue when the House of Commons returns for fall session on September 18, 2017. This timeline also falls in line with the deadline that the employer has given CPC workers to decide if they will take a position in Edmonton or forfeit their jobs.
In an open letter to Minister Hussen, dated July 17, 2017, Jenny Kwan called attention to the work that the various stakeholders have done to date to try to save the Vegreville CPC. She urged the Minister to intervene and halt the plans to close the CPC.
The government plans to close the CPC in Vegreville and move the centre to Edmonton—over 100 kilometres away—forcing employees to relocate, commute three hours each day, or quit the jobs they love. With 250 workers—about five percent of the town’s population—it has been one of the largest employers in Vegreville for 20 years.
Invitations to visit Vegreville have been disregarded by Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.