Local veteran in Ottawa fighting to keep Veterans Affairs offices open
Paul Davis spends a lot of time helping veterans on the west coast. But doing that will be harder come Friday when the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) office in Corner Brook closes its doors.
The office is one of nine across the country being shut by the federal government, and Davis is not happy with that move.
“They’re cutting costs on the back of our veterans and that’s all it is for them, a cost saving.”
That’s why he’s doing whatever he can to stop it from happening, and today the 66-year-old Summerside man, who is a veteran, will stand alongside others from communities affected by the office closures on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to ask the federal government to stop the closures.
Davis is scheduled to speak during a news conference the group will hold on the Hill at 11:30 a.m. Newfoundland time.
He arrived in Ottawa Sunday and spent most of Monday meeting with MPs from the federal Liberal party and the NDP.
Davis said finding out about the closure was devastating.
“We have 1,500 veterans on the west coast who depend on the DVA office in Corner Brook,” he said. “Now we have nowhere to go with our problems, no one to talk to.”
While there will still be one person located at the Service Canada office in the Joseph R. Smallwood Building, the service won’t be the same, Davis said.
“Just one person is not going to cut what it took seven people to do,” he said. “They don’t have the proper space to go and have interviews. You’re more out in the open with people, and your personal problems is nobody else’s.”
Besides that, Davis said it’s his understanding the remaining position will be only part time and he’s doubtful it will last long.
The only option left then is to travel to St. John’s at the veteran’s own expense, he said.
“It’s a day in and a day out to talk to someone maybe for five or 10 minutes.”
He said making that trip will be hard on many older veterans. On top of that, no additional staff has been hired to help with the extra 1,500 west coast files that have been sent to St. John’s, he said.
“The system is all wrong,” said Davis, adding he hopes it can be fixed.
Davis will return to Corner Brook Wednesday, and on Friday will participate in a local rally against the cuts at the Joseph R. Smallwood Building on Regent Square.
The Western Star