Kelowna veterans’ affairs office to re-open in November

Veterans' Affairs Minister says the office will have nine staff and be located in Kelowna's federal building.

Federal Veteran's Affairs Minister Kent Hehr speaks with Cindy Reed

The federal government will re-open the veterans’ affairs office which serves the Central Okanagan on Nov. 1, says veterans’ affairs minister Kent Hehr.

Hehr, in Kelowna to make the announcement Aug. 16, said the office will have a staff of nine, about the same number as was there when the former Conservative government closed the office in 2014 as a cost-cutting measure.

“We have an obligation to provide the services , where and when they are needed, that veteran’s need when they return (from service),” said Hehr.

He said the nine Kelowna workers will be part of 400 to be hired by his department as the Liberal government re-opens the 10 veteran’s affairs offices. One hundred and fifty of them will be case officers. The B.C. offices are in Kelowna, Prince George and Surrey. Others are in Saskatoon, Sask.; Brandon, Man.; Thunder Bay and Windsor in Ont.; Charlottetown, PEI, Sydney, NS and Corner Brook, Nfld.

Hehr said the aim for the Central Okanagan office is case worker to have a maximum of 25 cases each.

According to Cindy Reed, who worked at the local office before it was closed in 2014, the case load back then was between 30 and 40 cases per officer.

She hopes to return to work at the local office when it re-opens.

Hehr said there are currently about 3,500 veterans’ living in the Central Okanagan.

Local MP Stephen Fuhr, whose first stop after being elected last fall was to Hehr in Ottawa to press for a re-opening of the Kelowna veterans’ affairs office, said he was delighted to hear it will reopen in November.

And, unlike his predecessor former Conservative MP Ron Cannan who was at the announcement Tuesday, Fuhr said there is a need for the case workers here, and that need is likely to grow.

Cannan questioned the need to re-open the office, saying the one-person veteran’s affairs desk at the Kelowna federal building with which the former government replaced the office with two years ago, is sufficient.

He said he talked to the one existing case officer who told him she only deals with one to three cases per week.

Cannan said he would rather see the money being invested to re-open the office used to improve programs for veterans.

That brought a swift response from Fuhr., who was standing nearby.

Fuhr, who he defeated Cannan in last fall’s federal election, said veteran’s here were the ones who asked for the office to be re-opened so they could get help in dealing with issues such as benefits.

After both men spoke to Black Press, they got into a brief snippy verbal spat, with Fuhr accusing Cannan of “always sniffing around” local Liberal government announcements.

“You need to get a hobby,” he told Cannan.

“I’ve already have a job,” Cannan retorted before they turned away from each other.

Meanwhile, the announcement was welcomed by local vets on hand.

One, Don Stirling, who is also the service officer for the local Army, Navy, Air Force Association, said there are many issues veterans here need help with, including access to services, assistance with benefits and access to healthcare programs. The re-opened office should make that easier, he said.

The Liberal government vowed  during last year’s election campaign, to re-open the 10 veterans’ affairs offices. Hehr said the task was in his mandate letter from the prime minister when he was appointed veterans’ affairs minister.

The veterans affairs office will re-open in a temporary location in the federal building in November and then move to a permanent space in the same building in May, 2017.

Kelowna Capital News

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Malindi Elmore: Shattering national running records at 39

She recently shattered the Canadian women’s marathon record at the Houston Marathon in January

Vees have a short-handed romp over visiting West Kelowna Warriors

The Penticton Vees scored three short-handed goals to take a 1-0 series lead over West Kelowna

Kelowna production takes ‘The Walk’ to explore sex trafficking

The goal is to get people thinking about the situation, according to the playwright

BREAKING: Kelowna RCMP to further investigate 12 sexual assault cases, create sexual assault unit

Recommendations come 5 months after it was revealed 40% of sexual assaults were deemed ‘unfounded’

Central Okanagan school board expands whistleblower policy

School employees will now be able to report criminal activity anonymously to an independent third party

Clothing, jewelry, purses: RCMP ask court about disposal of evidence in Robert Pickton case

Pickton was sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 25 years for the murders of six women

Ryan nets hat trick in return as Senators beat Canucks 5-2

Ottawa winger received assistance for admitted alcohol problem

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs meet with provincial, federal ministers

Neither party speaking on the groundwork laid for tomorrow’s talks

Couple in crash on Highway 1 mistake Shuswap for Lower Mainland

Chase RCMP report Mercedes Benz collides with transport truck

Speaker ‘will not tolerate illegal activity’ on B.C. legislature grounds, says chief of staff

Chief of staff to the B.C. speaker Alan Mullen says situation with demonstrators appears ‘fluid’

MPs to examine privacy implications of facial-recognition technology used by RCMP

The MPs will look at how the technology affects the privacy, security and safety of children

Dates back to 2009: Calgary police lay charges in fraud involving semi-trucks

Three people from Calgary are facing charges that include fraud over $5,000

Laughing ladies and country artists sell out Okanagan venue

Alan Doyle and I Am Woman, Hear Me Laff! back to back sold out

Revelstoke mother and daughter return home after coronavirus quarantine in Asia

Jensine Morabito and her daughter were on Holland America’s Westerdam but did not catch the virus

Most Read