Happy Anniversary Liberal Government? Not in Vegreville

In one month – on October 19, 2017 -  it will be the second anniversary of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government. It is also day that the federal government has chosen to impose as a deadline for employees of the Vegreville Immigration Centre. Because of the government’s decision to close the centre and move it to Edmonton, 250 employees in Vegreville will celebrate the Liberals’ two-year anniversary faced with the choice to uproot their families and move to Edmonton, accept a three-hour commute, or leave the job they love.

“In the 2015 election campaign, Prime Minister Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada campaigned on a promise to listen to public service workers, and to ensure the vibrancy of all communities, urban and rural, throughout Canada, said Marianne Hladun, Regional Executive Vice-President, Public Service Alliance of Canada – Prairie Region. “We are calling on the Prime Minister to reflect on those promises, and reverse his decision to close the Vegreville Immigration Centre.”

The closure will have a devastating impact on workers and their families, the Vegreville community, and all other surrounding communities. lt will kill jobs in the community, close businesses, devastate property values, and undermine the tax base—making it harder to operate hospitals, schools and other essential community services. The case processing centre in Vegreville has been a cornerstone of the community for over 20 years. With 250 workers—about five percent of the town’s population—it is one of the town’s largest employers.

“It is not realistic to expect workers to sell their homes and leave their communities, or commute over 100 kilometres away to Edmonton to be able to keep the jobs they love and have held for years,” said Hladun. “October 19 is the two-year anniversary of this Liberal government. Two years is too long to live up to this simple promise.”

We now know that the cost of this unnecessary exercise will be far higher than initially anticipated. Clearly, it is time to rethink this entire process. PSAC calls on the federal government to immediately work with the union, the employees at the centre and the local community to come up with a solution that will meet the government's goals in a way that will also benefit the workers and the community.

PSAC represents more than 170,000 workers across Canada, including 250 employees at the Vegreville Case Processing Centre. CEIU is a component of PSAC, which represents the majority of workers at Service Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, and the Immigration and Refugee Board.

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