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Fantino in/out of VAC: changes in DM/other staff (merged)

Nemo888 said:
Old vets didn't seem to care when we were enduring the New Veterans Charter. Perhaps now would be a good time to unite as they are on the chopping block now.[size=10pt] Old and new vets together at a media event being respectful, disciplined and on message would be impossible to ignore.

Spot on. Our best means of accomplishing this is for the new Vets to sign on with the RCL and to change that organization's attitudes from within. Like all human endeavours if we can stop the dick measuring from WWII vets, Korea Vets, Afghan Vets, Peacekeepers, REMFs, Combat Arms and concentrate on what is important, we will all be further ahead.
RoyalDrew said:
Our "representatives" sounded like a bunch of cry babies.  Why can't we ever find a guy with half a brain to speak on behalf....

Because I haven't retired yet, and you are way too young to consider releasing to pursue this.


recceguy said:
I retired last year at age 60 I have deployments to Bosnia and Afghanistan plus 3 1\2 years in the early 70's in Germany and postings and deployments to all four coasts of North America.

However, according to you, I don't represent nor am I a modern veteran?

Why put an age on it at all? Pretty biased right out of the gate if you ask me.

Nor does it include all those 20 somethings who are driving around with Veterans' Plates on their cars.
Tabitha Southey has a solution

The question I imagine many Canadians have for Julian Fantino this week is, “Who do you think you are?” In fairness, we should be patient while waiting for an answer.

If Mr. Fantino responds, “I’m Minister of State for Seniors. No, hold on, I’m the Associate Minister of National Defence. Wait a sec, I got this one, I’m the Minister for International Cooperation” before coming around to “I’m the Minister of Veterans Affairs,” it’s understandable.

Cabinet ministers do get shuffled, of course, but the sense with Mr. “A Wandering Minister I” Fantino isn’t that he was such a roaring success in one department that his talents and diplomatic skills were demanded elsewhere and tears would just have to be dried.

The constant redeployment of Mr. Fantino suggests his fellow Conservatives like the concept of Julian Fantino (his policing background boosts their tough-on-crime brand) and yet have very little idea of what to do with the reality of Julian Fantino.


The veterans have suggested Mr. Fantino should be fired. History suggests Mr. Harper is more likely, fresh options close to exhausted, to create a special portfolio for him. The Associate Minister of National Defence position once held by Mr. Fantino was, after all, vacant from 2006 to 2011. It’s thought it was dusted off to make Mr. Fantino present, like a mascot at a football game, without actually bestowing much independent authority upon him.

Let’s hope if a new post must be manufactured, it’s one well suited to Mr. Fantino’s demonstrated skills: Minister in Charge of Pissing Off Strong-willed People With A Lot of Public Goodwill, for example.

I'm not entirely sure where the Fantino brand carries weight. His treatment of his subordinates was infuriating, his book was entirely vanilla, and his command, everywhere, has been nonstop head butting.

Who considers him tough on crime or a capable leader or politician....personal opinion of course
Container said:
I'm not entirely sure where the Fantino brand carries weight. His treatment of his subordinates was infuriating, his book was entirely vanilla, and his command, everywhere, has been nonstop head butting.

Who considers him tough on crime or a capable leader or politician....personal opinion of course

Container, that is a mystery no one seems to know.  I know of no one in law enforcement who has ever said a good thing about him.....
The only people Fantino ever helped, for political purposes, were the Indians at Caledonia. He got that wrong too.

The one time in his life he was called on to do the right thing and he failed miserably.
And now another twist and turn to the story. Pretty soon it will be like a Giant slalom race:


Veterans 'duped' by the union in showdown, Julian Fantino says

By Joe Warmington ,Toronto Sun 
First posted:  Friday, January 31, 2014 01:00 AM EST  | Updated:  Friday, January 31, 2014 01:06 AM EST 

Julian Fantino Minister of Veterans Affairs Julian Fantino speaks during question period on Parliament Hill in Ottawa January 29, 2014. (REUTERS/Blair Gable)


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TORONTO - Turns out the public rage directed toward Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino was paid for by the union whose jobs are being cut.

The veterans' rage toward Fantino was put on display for the whole country to see. What wasn't told was their trip to Ottawa was paid for by the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

The whole show was orchestrated.

"The veterans were used by the union," Fantino said Thursday in his first interview since Tuesday's incident. "They were duped."

Seven veterans and one co-ordinator were flown in and put up in a hotel to rail against the Government of Canada's decision to close eight veterans affairs offices in favour of having the veterans receive help at Service Canada locations.

"They did have their expenses paid for," confirmed a PSAC spokesman named Carrie, who said she could not provide her last name. "But they are all on fixed incomes."

She strongly pushed the point Fantino "did not show up at a meeting he set up" and the veterans were "furious."

Several veterans were quoted saying they felt "disrespected" by the minister after he responded to a veteran who was pointing his finger at him by saying, "This finger-pointing stuff doesn't really work very well with me."

Moments later, after trying to explain the government's position, Fantino was shouted down by a Second World War veteran who said "hogwash," to which Fantino walked away. All hell broke loose, including veteran Paul Davis telling an already organized news conference that Fantino "should not be in office and I'd like to see him resign."

The minister apologized in the House of Commons.

It does not seem to be enough for the union and some media -- with old scores to settle -- who are calling for Fantino's head.

The former Toronto Police chief and OPP commissioner's not-suffering-fools-gladly personality is legendary but suggestions he would purposely dishonour those who served in uniform is preposterous and feeling like a smear campaign.

"I don't know of anybody who cares more for veterans, soldiers and police," OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis said.

He is right. No one I know fights harder for them.

Fantino said he won't be resigning.

"We remain committed to support veterans and their families and it is unfortunate this was side-tracked," he said. "I am not going to be deterred by it. The government is working hard to deliver services to veterans and there is more to do."

He said he's "reached out" to those same veterans to meet -- without union activism intervention.

He also said he doesn't feel the incident was covered in an honest way.

"I wasn't going to just play dead," he said of when a veteran was pointing a finger at him. "I have great respect for him and all of them. But I also know they arrived angry, were angry during and left angry. They were all jacked up."

And it was PSAC, he said, who set and orchestrated this tone.

"They manipulated them," he said. "It was taking advantage of people who have served the country and in some cases are getting older. It's scurrilous."

Suggestions that Fantino and his staff were showing "contempt" he called "untrue" and nothing but an attempt at scoring political points.

"We have thousands of relationships with veterans that are positive," he said.

In fact, Fantino said, the "irony was I was in a cabinet meeting with a dozen senior ministers talking about veterans benefits. That's why I was late and I sent people over to invite them out for dinner."

Fantino said, "They refused, stormed out, but were later seen having dinner at a restaurant called Spin together with the union. When I did finally catch up to them, the first thing I did was apologize to them for being late, tried to explain where I was and what I was doing. At this point I was as much as called a liar."

The veterans affairs minister added, "Earlier in the day, the union leaders were also overheard briefing the vets on their strategy and questions and lines they were to use."

Two union spokesmen denied this, saying the union was not in anyway involved in influencing the veterans.

Other then, of course, paying for them to be there.

"It was a set-up," Fantino said. "The union exploited these folks and that to me is reprehensible."

So it turns out there is more than one side to this story, and now it has been reported.
I think I may have hinted as much several pages back.
Not surprised. Like I posed, the Kelowna VAC office was a waste of rations.
A rather neutral commentary in the Windsor Star, that is being claimed as biased by some who partook in the protest or are in support of the protests:

Reproduced under the Fair Dealings provisions of the Copyright Act.


Vander Doelen: Our Vets Manipulated

Chris Vander Doelen
Jan 31, 2014 - 6:02 PM EST
Last Updated: Jan 31, 2014 - 6:16 PM EST

Some strange political theatre took place on University Avenue on Friday during a protest over the closure of Windsor’s former Veteran’s Affairs Canada office.

Local NDP politicians were joined by about three dozen elderly veterans in full uniform, who in turn were surrounded by a crew of U.S. Vietnam vets in black leather biker gear and a bunch of people wearing an array of union logos.

Unifor shirts, Local 444 hats, PSAC jackets. NDP MP Brian Masse, NDP MPP Percy Hatfield, NDP Coun. Ron Jones, Ken Lewenza Sr. on the sidelines. Seeing any trend yet?

The hour-long protest of about 90 people boiled down to this: down with the Conservative government in Ottawa, and down with Essex Tory MP Jeff Watson. It wasn’t a protest so much as it was an early NDP election rally for 2015.

Too bad the vets allowed themselves to be used as political props by people who do not share their ideology. Nor do they share the long-term interests of soldiers or the Armed Forces.

What a weird sight it was, seeing so much of Windsor’s anti-war labour movement linked arm-in-arm with vets in all their medal finery.

Don’t be confused about what the VAC offices issue is about: it’s just a union thing, an ideological battle between a centre-right government trying to save money by rationalizing staff, and a very militant union (PSAC) that wants to preserve as many dues-paying positions as it can.

No veterans are losing any services due to the Friday closure of eight VAC offices across Canada. (One also closed last year). And given the extensive bumping rights of federal employees, I’m told it is highly unlikely that any of the PSAC staff will find themselves unemployed by the closures.

The only person who will lose anything tangible from the VAC office closure is the lone, elderly Commissionaire posted at the front door for security. A vet himself, he was the only one in the building losing his job, he told me a few months ago.

But PSAC will lose dozens of union positions and members coast-to-coast as the VAC offices close and retiring members aren’t replaced with new hires.

Altogether, the Stephen Harper government intends to scrub tens of thousands of jobs from the federal civil service this way to balance the books. Nineteen thousand are already gone.

It doesn’t matter that most of the jobs will be eliminated through painless attrition. PSAC doesn’t like it. And they’re clearly much more organized and effective than this government is when it comes to getting that message to voters.

The federal government, they claimed Friday, is “turning its back” on veterans by withdrawing badly needed mental health services to damaged veterans driven to suicide by an uncaring government.

“They’re bullies … kicking sand in their faces,” in the spittle-flecked, voice-cracking oratory of former CBC union leader Hatfield.

Except that it’s not true. None of offices provide any health care, or any kind of service other than advice. The six people in the Windsor office mostly just answered phone calls – about 16 per day last year – and advised veterans how to go about accessing benefits.

Very few veterans physically visited the University VAC office. Which is why they’re closing it: heating and maintaining that huge, mostly empty building wastes about $1 million per year – for something that was done almost entirely by phone anyway.

Only 23 veterans in Windsor and Essex County have active case files that require managing by federal workers. The vast majority of the 2,600 veterans and retired RCMP officers who live in Windsor-Essex don’t even need any of the services offered by the VAC office.

Ninety per cent of the 2,600 don’t need hearing aids, don’t need psychiatric care for PTSD, don’t collect pensions yet, don’t need a nursing home and don’t need anyone to shovel their walks or cut their lawns in summer. Those are most of the services the VAC offices arranged, delivered by others.

As of Monday, the 23 special cases will be advised by phone from London, Ont. And as of Monday, the $1 million per year can be put to something more useful – like paying for veterans’ benefits. Or given back to taxpayers – which is better than wasting it.

And if one or two vets per week still insist on walking into an office for their service, they can visit the full-time VAC staffer to be posted in the Service Canada office at 400 City Hall Square.

And that’s it. The whole coast-to-coast protest over the veterans’ affairs offices is no different than the fight Windsor taxpayers had with CUPE over cutting city staff. Just bigger.

Nothing changes for veterans, who will still get the same pensions and benefits and other perks they are entitled to from a populace grateful for their service.

This PSAC war against the spending cuts of a Conservative government, however, is just beginning.

cvanderdoelen@windsorstar.com 519-255-6852 Follow me on Twitter @winstarvander

Now one has to remember, the Conservative member can't be on both sides of the fence. 

Looking at these comments and looking past the politics being shown by the union and opposition parties, we can see some facts that justify the closing of such offices in the way of cutting costs.  One office was closed last year with no fanfare.  Now eight more are being closed as cost cutting measures, but no real loss in services, and the anti-government and union representatives are out in force capitalizind on this to expand their agendas.
This is a problem. We are not controlling the message on some very serious issues. We have been left out in the cold since 2005 and if we get caught in this tug of war both sides will use us for headlines then throw us away.

As we got into before the thread got derailed the NVC was not a mistake. I was there in 2005 when it was being drafted. The bean counters said vets cost too much. That the cost of inured soldiers would be more than the cost of prosecuting the war. So they slashed the benefits on future veterans while leaving the older vets alone. This way at the introduction no vets would come forward and only slowly as new ones accumulated would how much they slashed become apparent.  The slogan "Living Charter" was invented as a very smart public relations campaign to prevent the eventual realization that they cut the majority of the benefits. The Legion got on board because they kept all their benefits on the old system. They created two tiers of vets. Pre2005 vets who got cash and post 2005 vets who got promises and by my calculation a lump sum of 6.7 years on the old system.

The current government has had the opportunity to fix this travesty since 2006. They could have fixed the NVC anytime in the last 7 years. The SISIP lawsuit which they lost on both legal and moral grounds is the indicator of their actual views on  this issue. They are appealing and stalling the payouts to deserving disabled veterans for as long as legally possible at great public expense. The misinformation campaign has continued, probably orchestrated by the same bureaucrats that found us so undeserving in 2005. Another good example is the 5 billion promised in increased benefits. If you look up the budget for the last fiscal year the outlay in benefits only increased by 1.3 million dollars. Priority Hiring is another great promise on paper. You are a priority right after the 20,000 public service workers being laid off. The ombudsman is a useless partisan office and other than Strogan has merely prevented change by being a psychological safety valve.

Vets, (and I mean that primarily in a legal sense as those who gave the government unlimited liability and are not legally allowed to sue or go to WSIB for injuries and need to use VAC resources. My apologies if this was unclear before.)  are not treated equally.  I asked a lawyer who often sues the city and he said VAC payouts were less than one tenth what he gets for accident claimants. This multitiered system is not fair.

So the bigger problem right now is all political parties are using us to make headlines. Fantino was tasked with vets to make cuts and take heat. He is succeeding and we are losing. We need to come up with a coherent list of grievances or we will be thrown under the bus again.

Here is a very informative presentation to the House, by MP for Durham, a former member of the CF, Erin O'Toole:


So if I understand him correctly the 8 "closed" offices are to be bundled with Service Canada, which is in most cases in the same building. In addition, 600 new positions are to be opened at SC across the country.

Or did I miss something.
ModlrMike said:
So if I understand him correctly the 8 "closed" offices are to be bundled with Service Canada, which is in most cases in the same building. In addition, 600 new positions are to be opened at SC across the country.

Or did I miss something.

Listening to the video now, but the press releases stated a full-time VAC case worker was to go to Service Canada locations near were each of the VAC offices were closed. Haven't heard of an increase in VAC employees at Service Canada.
ModlrMike said:
So if I understand him correctly the 8 "closed" offices are to be bundled with Service Canada, which is in most cases in the same building. In addition, 600 new positions are to be opened at SC across the country.

Or did I miss something.

8 Offices are closing and the Service Canada locations at those places will take over the case-work for the veterans located there.  600 "new" posns are actually 600 temporary posns who will be placed in each Service Canada venue in order to train the current Service Canada workers on what is required; they will then be out of jobs post training the Service Canada workers.  Service Canada workers are also experiencing seperate staff reductions.  So, the work load is going UP at Service Canada locations (gaining the Vet files), but their current staff is going down, but they are gaining 600 temp workers just to train the ones who will have their jobs left on how to handle VAC files.

I'm wondering how many Privacy Act breaches we will see now with Vet files given that Service Canada centres will have reduced staffing levels, greater workload, but no area of expertize:  "How can we help you today Citizen A??  Passport, Birth certificate, CPP question? Federal Survivor benefits question? Immigrant questions? PTSD? No worries, I know it all it this town."

The closure is huge news in Sydney generating many protests for quite some time now ... Sydney has a huge Vet population however.  Perhaps the devil is in the locations they chose to close and not in the closures themselves. When a VAC satellite already has a vast client-base in location X, why would it be among those closed to amalgamate into a Service Canada location with 1/2 of the staff, but now quadruple the workload and no expertize?  That's what baffles me.
ArmyVern said:
When a VAC satellite already has a vast client-base in location X, why would it be among those closed to amalgamate into a Service Canada location with 1/2 of the staff, but now quadruple the workload and no expertize?  That's what baffles me.

The government loves to consolidate in the name of savings.  For anyone dealing with the loss of IT services in the "more efficient" SSC these days, this kind of tactic will be all too familiar.  Staff is reduced, workload isn't - with the result that someone gets a promotion for saving money, while necessary things no longer get done. 

Meanwhile, I hope that any veterans who are disadvantaged by this change will speak up about it, in a respectful manner, with concrete examples.