And he’s not the only one. LaPierre works for the Department of Veterans Affairs where hundreds of jobs are being cut, 232 at the Charlottetown office alone.
“No one knows the outcomes and where the cuts are next,” said LaPierre, a representative of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC).
He and fellow PSAC members, along with members of the CUPE P.E.I., the P.E.I. Federation of Labour, friends, family and ordinary Islanders, gathered outside Egmont MP and National Revenue Minister Gail Shea’s Summerside constituency office Saturday to protest federal government job cuts.
The National Day of Action, as PSAC called it, was held across the country.
While a couple of dozen people gathered on Water Street missing was Shea, the province’s lone Conservative member in parliament.
“She did send her regrets that she was not able to attend,” said PSAC’s Dawn Hardy. “Our mission in organizing this here was to get people out to talk about how we are all affected by the changes and the cuts to government with a Prince Edward Island flavour.”
Summerside Mayor Basil Stewart spoke to the crowd as did Liberal MP Sean Casey, the only Member of Parliament to show up for the event.
“Prince Edward Island has been disproportionatly affected by the civil service cuts. I have raised it in the House of Commons. It isn’t only important to the public sector unions, which is the message they are putting across here,” said Casey. “It’s important to immmigrants who can’t get service… to veterans who have nobody on the ground… to people getting their EI claims processed… to people who want a passport.
“This needs to be told and retold and retold. The fact that the Conservative government won’t listen isn’t a reason to lie down. That’s why I am here.”
Cuts are taking place in various areas on P.E.I., with jobs from the EI processing centre in Montague moving off Island and a couple of hundred jobs to be cut at Veterans Affairs in Charlottetown over four years.
“They are taking good jobs out of a small rural community. They are not cutting the jobs, the jobs are moving to Halifax,” LaPierre said of the cuts in Montague. “They are just taking the jobs out of P.E.I.”
Hardy added, “We know with Service Canada, right off the top, they are losing 50 jobs. That’s not even including the numbers we are losing from the processing centre. For the rest of us, we are just waiting to hear the final numbers.”
LaPierre said the cuts impact everyone, not just the individual losing their job.
“A big part of it, too, isn’t just the economic loss to P.E.I. it’s the social loss as well,” he added. “A lot of these families, when they lose these big jobs, are moving away to find replacements for these jobs.
“Up in Ottawa, you can walk out the front door and go across the street and find another job. You can’t do that on P.E.I.”
There is a trickle down effect, with less money being spent in the retail sector and the loss of volunteers and members of the community as these families move, said LaPierre.
“The biggest thing is transparency. We can work well with management if they let us know what’s happening. Give us a heads up. We can work with it and let the people know,” he added. “Bad news is better than no news.”
A banner where people could sign their support and write down their concerns was centre at Saturday’s National Day of Action.
Casey was among those who signed it.
“It will be 10 metres long by the time we’re finished. What we’re asking Islanders to do is just come up and tell us how they’ve been affected,” said Hardy. “Once it’s ready, we’ll take all the comments that are written, take note of them and we will move to try and change some of these things. The biggest thing is to give Islanders a voice.”
LaPierre is hopeful something can be done, if Islanders band together.
“This is affecting everyone from federal, provincial to private sector, tip to tip. It’s your every day Islander that’s going to be affected. Services they depend on are no longer going to be there.”