Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ottawa chopping veteran jobs

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OTTAWA -- Nearly 300 positions at Veterans Affairs Canada are being eliminated as a result of measures in the 2012 federal budget.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada, the union representing the federal workers, was served with a letter June 17 notifying it that 297 positions are "affected" by the reorganization.

Of those, 224 jobs will actually be cut, as opposed to being reallocated.

The department's headquarters in P.E.I., locations in Ottawa and field offices across the country will be affected by the measures.

The vast majority of the reductions -- 153 -- will be made in Charlottetown.

The overhaul of the department will take until 2015, and the Harper government has consistently said it will not affect services to ex-members of the military and the RCMP.

A spokesman for Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney said the affected positions are information technology and communications and do not affect client services.

"As promised we are maintaining and improving service as well as the delivery of our services and benefits to veterans and we are confident that these back-office reductions can be managed through the close to 700 employees eligible to retire in the coming years," said Niklaus Schwenker in an email.

But the union isn't buying it, noting the federal government recently signed a $318-million contract with a private, for-profit company to deliver some services being chopped in the public sector.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 21, 2013 A18

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