Liberal Plan to Relocate Vegreville Case Processing Centre Will Devastate Community

Today, employees at the Vegreville Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Case Processing Centre were told the Liberals plan to shut it down and relocate it to a Crown owned property in downtown Edmonton. There are 280 employees at CPC Vegreville, a quarter of the student population are children of those employees and this decision may impact the jobs of 250 spouses.

“This is yet another example of the Liberals being out of touch with rural Canadians,” MP Stubbs said. “People in Vegreville can’t take another hit, farmers are struggling with crops left in the field, oil and gas workers have lost their jobs in unprecedented numbers, and in so many cases, these CPC Vegreville jobs are the only employment supporting peoples families, not to mention individuals and single parents. On top of this, the fact is, relocation or commuting are not options for many of the employees.”

These employees and their families will be devastated by this top down urban centric decision, which will have a domino effect on other businesses, on community organizations, and on all of Vegreville.

CPC Vegreville is a leading employer in the area and is the major processing centre, and hub, for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship in western Canada. It continues to be a major player, particularly in processing temporary and permanent residency applications, work permits, visitor records and study permits, and in providing back up to CPCs across Canada. Two years ago, all spousal applications previously processed in Vegreville were rerouted to Mississauga, at which point processing was delayed significantly and the backlogged inventory sent back to Vegreville for completion. No new spousal applications will be processed through Vegreville. Processing related to the Live in Caregiver Program has declined significantly, so the work load for employees dedicated to that program is very limited.

“This decision blindsided employees in Vegreville, and was obviously made with no consideration of the people who would be impacted most and no consultation about the consequences on the community as a whole. Employees and their families are extremely distressed and uncertain about their futures because of the chaos caused by the announcement today. I am hearing from some employees who fear this decision was a self-fulfilling prophecy, and predetermined internally because they’ve had a significant decrease in their case load and a decline in paper applications, so they’re concerned the reduction is being used to justify the relocation; others are barely able to keep up with their enormous and ever increasing workloads because of increases in electronic application processing in other streams, but they’ve been told teleworking with the new Edmonton location is not an option even though all the work is done electronically. People are very worried and insecure about their futures; what is clear is the shocking announcement today will remove a vital and successful economic epicentre of the community at the very worst time. It’s appalling,” said MP Stubbs.

Today’s announcement left many blindsided. The town, Mayor and council as well as employees and administrators in CPC Vegreville were not included, or consulted, in advance.

“The lack of consultation with local government on this issue is equally disturbing. Their ‘consult consult consult’ approach seems to only apply to those living in convenient urban centres. This dangerous decision needs to be revisited. I urge the Prime Minister, Minister McCallum and the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to immediately reverse this decision, consult with employees, administrators, community members, businesses and municipal representatives in Vegreville to get a grasp on the situation, and to understand the devastation of their decision on these hard working families,” said MP Stubbs
Many residents have already started to reach out to MP Stubbs looking for information on this announcement. “I have heard from constituents who are very concerned about what this means for them. They are worried about their futures and ability to stay in their homes, their jobs and their community. I will be writing to Minister McCallum to present him with all of the implications his ‘made in Ottawa’ approach will have on these people and their livelihoods.”