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Immigration office in St. John's will not close

Confusion resulting from poor communication of changes to come

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

While doing its part in the federal government's cost cutting strategy, Citizenship and Immigration Canada will not be closing an office in St. John's.

The Telegram had been informed by the department of the closure of what it described as a "small office," affecting a single job in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"One person will be affected in Newfoundland by the closure of a small 'regional office' in St. John's," stated an email sent Friday from a department spokesman.

That statement was incorrect.

After posting a story online stating the office in St. John's would be closed, the paper received a call from someone in St. John's, someone interacting with the federal department on a regular basis, who claimed they had been told no such closure was happening.

The government spokesman was immediately contacted again by The Telegram. There were emails requesting response throughout the day and an afternoon phone call.

At 6 p.m. local time, the spokesman responded.

"The St. John's office is not closing. But as a result of redesigning the management of CIC's programs and services, the St. John's, N.L. office is reducing staff by one employee," he said in a revised statement.

"The office at 21 Hallett Cres. will remain open as usual. We apologize for any confusion."

Miscommunication over federal cost cutting measures in the department has not only happened here, but also in Manitoba - where provincial leaders had believed a Winnipeg office to be closing, only to find out otherwise days later.

Meanwhile, the department has not stated whether the single employee affected here will have the option to work for the government at another federal service centre.

On April 11, the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada - representing tech specialists, researchers and other professionals working within the department - announced 40 employees within Citizenship and Immigration Canada had received job notices.

The notices represent workers whose positions are in jeopardy, but in some cases may not but cut.

The government may choose to move positions in its consolidation of services and offer employees, whose jobs are affected by departmental streamlining, the opport- unity to move to another service centre.

There are seven regional offices for the department in the country. Four of the seven will be merged into two. As well, smaller offices across the country - though none in this province - are slated to close.

The federal government is promising no reduction in the quality of service provided by the department.

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada stated it is still sorting through the total job notices handed down to federal workers last week, attempting to determine potential effects in specific provinces and facilities.

The union told The Telegram 27 of its members (commerce officers) at ACOA received notices April 4, shortly before the main sweep last week and three of those notices went to ACOA workers in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"As we work through the data, we should be able to provide a more complete picture (of the cuts to N.L.)," said Pierre Villon, a rep for the union.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the position of district director for Canada Border Services is set to be cut.

There are 17 employees with Canadian Food Inspection Agency based at a lab in St. John's who have received notices - 14 are being offered transfers to other provinces. The lab will be closed.

Six jobs are expected to be lost in Channel-Port aux Basques, with 15 workers on notice. There is also the potential loss of two positions in Argentia - all relating to the dockside measure of cleaning of soil from ferry traffic.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada has said 10-13 workers with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada in Newfoundland and Labrador are already on notice.

At Foreign Affairs and International Trade in this province, it "might be one or two."

The Veterans Affairs office in Corner Brook is expected to close.

Notices are yet to be rolled out for some other departments.

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