Islanders rally for Canada Post workers

Journal Pioneer staff
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CHARLOTTETOWN – P.E.I. NDP Leader Mike Redmond says Canada has lost its moral compass as a nation.

Redmond was speaking at a National Day of Action rally in Charlottetown on Monday designed to talk about cuts to a variety of public services, such as Veterans Affairs Canada and Canada Post.

The rally drew an estimated 50 to 60 people to Murphy’s Community Centre.

“How can it be that a country so wealthy cannot deliver mail door to door? How can it be that over 10,000 Islanders need to travel to the mainland for health care?’’ Redmond asked.

“How can we accept closures to our Veterans Affairs offices right here in Charlottetown and tell our heroes they need to travel to Saint John, N.B., for a one-on-one case worker?’’

Chris Clay, president of the postal workers union in Charlottetown, says changes to Canada Post will affect up to 50 jobs on P.E.I.

“That’s substantial,’’ Clay said. “Our membership is worried and, personally, I’m worried. I’m scared at the thought of losing my job and that’s where everybody is.’’

Those cuts will also impact Islanders with the federal government’s decision to end door-to-door delivery. It will be phased out over five years, beginning later this year.

Under the plan, announced Dec. 11, all Canadians will get mail in community mailboxes, the cost of a first-class stamp will rise to 85 cents on March 1 (up from 63 cents), operations will be streamlined and more postal services will be shifted to retail partners.

“That impacts communities across Canada,’’ Clay said. “It’s going to forever change the way people look at mail (and) it really hurts the brand, I believe.’’

Debbie Buell, speaking for the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), spoke about the cuts to Veterans Affairs.

Of the plan to eliminate more than 800 jobs across the country, 232 of the cuts will hit the headquarters operation in Charlottetown by March 2015. The district office, where veterans could get a one-on-one meeting with a case worker, will close this Friday.

“Our government is betraying veterans,’’ said Buell, who is also the national vice-president for the union representing Veterans Affairs employees. “In the face of widespread opposition, the federal government still plans to shut down Veterans Affairs offices in eight communities across Canada at the end of this week.’’

Debbie Bovyer, president of the Union of Public Sector of Employees, accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper of attacking unions.

“Most of the (Veterans Affairs) cuts apply to front-line workers so services of our veterans will continue to be compromised. Shame on Harper,’’ Bovyer said, as the crowd gathered yelled ‘Shame’ in response.

Bovyer also touched on cuts to EI, pointing to the 28 claims processing jobs cut in Montague in 2012, and cuts to Parks Canada where about 20 jobs were eliminated on P.E.I.

Leo Broderick, with the Council of Canadians, said the Harper government is making it quite obvious which direction it’s going in.

“The Harper government is going to privatize every public service that we have in this country that we’ve built up over the years,’’ Broderick said.

Redmond summed things up this way: “Our basic freedoms . . . this is what is at stake here today.’’

Organizations: Canada Post, Union of Public Sector Employees, CUPW Local 30

Geographic location: Charlottetown

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