Job cuts coming to Veterans Affairs

Canada’s Veterans Affairs Department is expected to get smaller by 500 jobs over the next few years, a House of Commons committee was told Tuesday as senior officials defended $226 million in planned budget cuts.

OTTAWA — Canada’s Veterans Affairs Department is expected to get smaller by 500 jobs over the next few years, a House of Commons committee was told Tuesday as senior officials defended $226 million in planned budget cuts.

Keith Hillier, the department’s assistant deputy minister of services, told the all-party veterans affairs committee that the job reductions will be implemented as painlessly as possible.

There were reports last week out of Charlottetown, where the bulk of the department is located, that as many as 800 jobs could be lost out of a total workforce of 2,200.

Hillier’s testimony provides the first official confirmation of the workforce reductions.

“Over the next five years, there will be a transformation of Veterans Affairs,” he said. “At the end of the day, it will be a smaller department.”

Roughly 30 per cent of the department is eligible to retire over the next few years, and “consequently we believe we can manage this change through attrition and good human resources planning and staffing,” Hillier said.