Union reaffirms call to reverse Vegreville closure amid new revelations

With recent revelations that moving the Vegreville Case Processing Centre (CPC) to Edmonton will cost taxpayers millions extra, the union representing workers at the Vegreville CPC is reaffirming the call to reverse the closure and to invest in rural Canadian communities.

“We have repeatedly asked the Immigration Minister to back up his claims with the numbers related to costs and savings, but all we received was redacted documents,” said Eddy Bourque, National President of the Canada Employment and Immigration Union (CEIU), the component of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) that represents the majority of over 250 workers at the Vegreville CPC. “Now, we know what he knew all along. This move is entirely political.”

Global News Chief Political Correspondent David Akin first broke the news on Wednesday, referencing an internal costing analysis from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The documents show Ottawa will spend $46.6 million on renovations and leasing in Edmonton, compared to $35.8 million to upgrade the existing facility in Vegreville.

“It never made sense to take a long-standing, high-functioning office out of a small, rural community and move it to a major metropolitan city,” said Marianne Hladun, Regional Executive Vice-President for the PSAC Prairie Region. “Alleged savings aside, the loss of qualified, capable workers and the combined years of experience would be devastating to the services that Canadians rely on.

Yesterday, MP Ralph Goodale answered questions in the House of Commons, defending the relocation with claims of a 20% vacancy rate in Vegreville.

“We are 100% confident that if IRCC offered indeterminate employment instead of precarious term employment, they could easily fill any vacancies—including bilingual,” said Hladun. “This is just another example of face-saving from the Liberal government.”

Next Thursday, May 25, at 12:15 p.m., the union will hold a Supporting Alberta Communities Rally at the clock tower outside Canada Place, the proposed future home of the Vegreville CPC, to protest the attack on rural communities like Vegreville.

The department plans to shutter the CPC in Vegreville and move the centre to Edmonton—over 100 kilometres away, forcing employees to relocate, commute over three hours each day, or quit the jobs they love. With 280 workers—about five percent of the town’s population—it has been one of the largest employers in Vegreville for over 20 years.

PSAC represents more than 170,000 workers across Canada, including 280 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.