A group of more than 3,000 protesters convened in Sydney, N.S., on Saturday to stage their condemnation of the federal government’s plan to shut down the local Veterans Affairs office. A government announcement revealed previously that it was planning to close nine offices before February 2014, including the Sydney office.
One army man who served for nearly four decades, Ron Clarke, alleged that his life depends on the local Sydney office for benefits and other services. He stated that “It’s just going to kill us…take note of that word: going to kill us,” adding that “they couldn’t do it on the battlefield so they’re going to do it right here in Ottawa.” Clarke suffers from post-partum depression, and alleged that he cannot afford to instead drive five hours to the Veterans Affairs office in Halifax. In their announcement, Veterans Affairs claims that the department is “adjusting the footprint” of its offices in order to provide better service that reflects the demographics of Canadian veterans. However, the department also assured that it will continue to support veterans at Service Canada locations, while highlighting that majority of its services offered at district offices are now available online.