A deadline related to the transfer of the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Case Processing Centre (CPC) in Vegreville has come and gone. The union involved claims way more employees are rejecting the notion of moving to Edmonton than what the government expected.
Located about an hour east of Edmonton, the CPC employs about 220 people. Last fall, it was announced the facility would be shut down and relocated to Canada Place — a federal building 100 kilometres away in downtown Edmonton.
All employees have to sign a declaration and about a third are saying they’ll quit rather than move.
“That’s not information that is publicly released to the union, but I do know that many long-time employees are not moving,” Marianne Hladun, regional executive vice-president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s Prairies division, confirmed in a phone interview from Winnipeg. Earlier this year, local officials said if the staff moved, the community stood to lose seven per cent of its population.
WATCH: Global News has uncovered documents suggesting plans to move a government office from Vegreville to Edmonton will not save money. Kent Morrison reports.
Hladun said the story seems to constantly be in flux from the government. She starts with numbers, which PSAC has pegged at 280. “They said they needed 314. Now the number is 340. And the reality is the Vegreville processing centre has the highest percentage of completion. They’re actually doing projects for other processing centres.”
Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi recently said with 340 positions, the Edmonton location would be able to process immigration requests more quickly than in Vegreville. Changes to Bill C-6 were announced Oct. 13 designed speed up processing of immigration files. The first deadline for employees to sign a declaration on moving was Oct. 19.
“They said it was to save money. We proved that wasn’t the case. Then, they said they need more people. They have the room to have more people. So every time we provide information, they keep spouting the same stuff — but yet at the end of the day, there’s no reason to move that centre from Vegreville.”
“Recruitment, accommodations, the town has addressed everything, the province has offered post-secondary education in the community, so every argument they have put forward there has been a counter to address that.”
PSAC has also filed a grievance on behalf of its members contesting some moving allowances. They intend to keep fighting the transfer.
The closure is scheduled to happen in 2018.
— With files from Karen Bartko, Global News