NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 8, 2017

Liberal Government’s Representative in the Senate agrees to ask government to revisit decision to close Vegreville Case Processing Centre

OTTAWA – In Question Period in the Senate today, the Liberal Government’s Representative in the Senate, Senator Harder, agreed to ask the government to revisit its decision to close the Immigration Case Processing Centre in Vegreville, Alberta.

Senator Harder was responding to a question from Alberta Senator Betty Unger, where she asked, “Will you ask the government if they are willing to re-launch their examination of this facility in order to properly consult with the people of Vegreville properly and try to get their facts straight?”

Senator Harder replied, “Yes I will.”

“The government needs to redo the study which led to the decision to close this facility,” Senator Unger said. “The Town of Vegreville received no public consultation before being abruptly notified that the Vegreville Case Processing Centre would be closed. Furthermore, the Town of Vegreville has convincingly refuted the so-called facts that the government is using to justify this action.”

Senator Unger noted that the decision to move the Centre will have a devastating impact on the Town of Vegreville.

“Removing 280 jobs from the community represents almost 10 per cent of Vegreville’s labour force. If the government made an assault of this scale against jobs in Edmonton, it would mean a loss of over 37,000 jobs. This is unconscionable. I am delighted that Senator Harder will inquire if the government is willing to revisit their ill-informed decision to close this facility,” Senator Unger said, “and urge the government to respond in the affirmative.”

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For More Information:

Betty Unger, Alberta Senator
613-996-7420

Craig Docksteader, Parliamentary Affairs Advisor
613-220-2077

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BACKGROUNDER

Transcript of Question Period – June 8, 2017

Question Period: Vegreville Case Processing Centre

Hon. Betty Unger:  Senator Harder, we seem to be on a bit of a pattern here.  I ask a question about the unnecessary and devastating closure of the Vegreville Case Processing Centre, and you provide me with incorrect answers.

Yesterday, you indicated that the department of immigration was having difficulty recruiting employees.  This is false.  In fact, last year, the CPC had 274 employees, the highest number of employees over the last four years.  If more are needed, there are more workers available in Vegreville.

You also said that 42 per cent of workers will be reaching retirement in the next five years.  Again, this is false.  It appears to be the conclusion of a bureaucrat consulting a spreadsheet instead of talking to actual employees.

You suggested that moving the CPC will save money.  Again, this is false.

You indicated that the current facility is too small and is unable to accommodate growth.  This is false.

I could go on and on, but we have limited time.  Suffice it to say, the government is clearly misleading you and this chamber when the livelihood of so many families and the future of a community are at stake.

Are you not concerned that the government is providing you and the Senate with incorrect information?  So much for openness and transparency.  Will you commit to going back to the minister to ask him to abandon this wrong‑headed business case?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate):  I will not.

Senator Unger:  The Liberal government’s claim to be open and transparent is a myth.  You are just proving it.

The town of Vegreville received no public consultation before being abruptly notified that the Vegreville Case Processing Centre would be closed.  Government bureaucrats actually spent six months planning and doing case studies behind closed doors, and yet they did not bother talking to the people of Vegreville.

How is this either open or transparent?  Will you ask the government if they are willing to relaunch their examination of this facility in order to properly consult with the people of Vegreville to get their facts straight?

And I don’t think “no answer” is an answer.

Senator Harder:  To the question being posed, yes I will.