Liberal veterans affairs critic and Scarborough-Agincourt MP Jim Karygiannis was in Kelowna Oct. 31 as part of his fight to keep veterans affairs offices across the country open.
Kelowna’s office is one of nine veterans affairs offices to close by next February; local veterans wanting face-to-face service will have to travel to Penticton, or wait for a case worker to visit, after the office is closed.
Those not wanting to travel to Penticton will be forced to search for assistance by phoning a toll free number or seeking help through online services.
“You’re 85 years old, you’re a veteran. How are you going to drive to Penticton?” asked Karygiannis, noting the federal government is failing in its “obligation” to look after veterans.
According to Karygiannis, only one veteran showed up to speak with him in front of the Veterans Affairs office in Kelowna Oct. 31; however, he said that doesn’t mean local veterans aren’t concerned.
“A lot of the vets were scared to show up, because should they show up to speak, they would probably be targeted,” he said.
Despite the low turnout in Kelowna, Karygiannis said he has heard plenty of concerns and complaints from veterans across the country, including Kelowna.
“They’re frustrated, they’re angry…they don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Last year Kelowna-Lake Country MP Ron Cannan told Capital News the Penticton office serves a higher number of clients than the Kelowna office.
“It’s unfortunate, but it’s necessary,” Cannan said.
“We have to live within our means, and the reality is that a leaner government is better for all Canadians in the long run.”