In Touch - June 7, 2017

June 07, 2017

For the past few months, the Conservative Caucus has been holding the Liberals feet to the fire on many important files. One of those is the political decision to move the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Case Processing Centre out of Vegreville into a Liberal cabinet member’s riding in Edmonton. More information has come to light including the fact that the move will end up costing tax payers millions of dollars.

 

The impact on the community of Vegreville will be devastating. Recently, ATCO President and CEO Nancy Southern wrote to the Prime Minister. They points she made are extremely important so I wanted to share the content of the letter with you.

 

Dear Prime Minister:

 

I am writing to you today to respectfully raise my concern for the community of Vegreville, the employees and families that are currently employed at the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Case Processing Centre (CPC), and the economic impact of relocating the centre. This move, coupled with the closure of coal plants in Alberta, who, like the CPC in Vegreville, are the primary employers of Forestburg and Hanna, and will have a significant if not devastating ripple effect on the small business owners who support these communities.

 

Forestburg and Hanna are already close to the point of becoming obsolete; there is no way to extract the hard-saved homeowner equity for the people who live and work in these towns, no jobs to back fill the jobs lost, and no customers to support the local businesses.

 

Vegreveille is a larger town than the ones I have referred to, nevertheless, the economic consequence will have a significant bearing for the same reasons I stated above.

 

Thriving rural communities are crucial to the economic, social and environmental fabric of Canada. Continuing to locate public sector jobs, like those with the Federal Government, in our rural communities ensure that families are able to work and live in these communities. Not only do these jobs provide economic stability, they also enable families to contribute to their local economy.

 

ATCO is proud to employ almost 2000 people in Alberta’s rural communities, including 134 in the Vegreville area. We have made a conscious decision to maintain out local offices throughout Alberta to support our rural communities and do our part to ensure rural Alberta thrives, even though there are obvious cost advantages in consolidation. ATCO believes rural communities are the heart and soul of Canada, and that governments, at all levels, must ensure they support these communities and the qualitative benefits they provide, these benefits cannot necessarily be quantified in dollars and cents.

 

The loss of 280 jobs in a small community of 5,700 people will have devastating effects. This represents almost 10% of Vegreville’s labour force – a loss of $14.5 million of labour income.

 

The CPC contributes almost $16 million to the GDP of Vegreville and generates $1.2 million in municipal revenues (approximately 15% of Vegreville’s 2016 tax assessment). It is estimated the town could lose up to 420 people if this closure occurs. Local schools are expected to lose up to 130 students which will have serious impacts to their funding and future, not to mention the significant disruption this will have on housing and the devaluation of homeowner equity.

 

It is my hope that you will reconsider your decision to move the CPC from Vegreville. I would be honoured to discuss this further with you or a designate, anytime – anywhere.

 

I write to you as a proud Canadian with a sincere and deep affection for our country.

 

Sincerely,

N.C. Southern
Chair, President and Chief Executive Officer

 

It isn’t too late for the Liberal’s to reverse this mean spirited decision. I will continue to stand with my colleagues in Ottawa in calling for reconsideration.

 

Sincerely your Member of Parliament,
Earl Dreeshen