Trudeau invited to Alberta town facing ‘devastating’ processing centre closure

Click to play video: 'Fight to save hundreds of jobs heats up in Vegreville'
Fight to save hundreds of jobs heats up in Vegreville
WATCH ABOVE: Vegreville residents gathered in December, saying the Trudeau government is waging war with rural Alberta. It comes after the government announced the relocation of the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Case Processing Centre. Kendra Slugoski has the story – Dec 19, 2016

Editor’s Note: This story originally said the centre employed 280 people, according to local MP Shannon Stubbs. However according to a Spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada department, 220 people work at the Vegreville office. 

The Town of Vegreville has extended an invitation to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to visit the central Alberta community and discuss the loss of up to 220 jobs due to the closure of the a federal government office.

Back in October it was announced that the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Case Processing Centre (CPC) in Vegreville, which employs roughly five per cent of the community, will be shut down and relocated to Edmonton.

READ MORE: Vegreville case processing centre relocated, 280 jobs impacted: town

Mayor Myron Hayduk said the federal government’s decision is a horrific blow to the town, as he expects the financial hit to be around $10 million a year.

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He said the closure would be like Edmonton losing 35,000 jobs.

“That would be devastating to Edmonton. This is devastating to our community,” Hayduk said last year.

Hayduk said with the prime minister announcing he is touring the country to engage directly with Canadians, he should include Vegreville in his schedule.

READ MORE: Trudeau continues second day of cross country tour with visit to CFB Trenton

“Middle class Canadians live in the community of Vegreville and our community risks losing up to 10 per cent of its entire workforce based on a single federal decision – one made without consultation,” Hayduk said, adding it is time for Trudeau to listen to the facts.

“We are losing important, sustainable jobs when better options exist. We want a chance for the prime minster to discuss the threat to our community’s viability,” he said.

Hayduk said there was no consultation with the town over the decision. “While the department [of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada] has said it developed a detailed business case, it has not shared this information with the community. In addition, there was no assessment of the economic consequence created for Vegreville by closing the community’s largest employer,” a statement from the town said.
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READ MORE: Alberta town of Vegreville searching for answers after news of processing centre closure

The CPC employs 220 people. At least 200 of those employees live in Vegreville, which has around 6,000 residents.

A spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said while negotiating a new lease, the department made the decision to move the CPC to Edmonton, “the closest major city, where the proximity to universities, the availability of public transit and housing options, and career growth opportunities within the federal government will make it easier to recruit and retain both qualified and bilingual employees and to meet our growing needs.”

Click to play video: 'McCallum comes under fire over Alberta immigration centre relocation'
McCallum comes under fire over Alberta immigration centre relocation

WATCH ABOVE: Immigration Minister John McCallum says the plan to relocate an immigration processing centre from Vegreville, Alta., to Edmonton will be more efficient and result in a net increase of jobs in Alberta.

A government spokesperson said the hope is to retain as much of the current staff as possible when the centre moves to Edmonton in 2018.

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Vegreville is approximately 100 kilometres east of Edmonton.

— With files from Slav Kornik and Shallima Maharaj, Global News

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