Stratford News Veterans Affairs offices to remain closed after vote in Parliament SHARE ON: Ethan Rabidoux, staff Tuesday, Feb. 4th, 2014 The battle over Veterans Affairs continued yesterday in the House of Commons. The Harper Government used its Conservative majority to vote down an NDP motion calling for the eight regional offices that were closed last Friday to reopen. The New Democrats also included calls for additional mental health staff at National Defence in the motion as a response to eight military suicides in the last two months. The Public Service Alliance of Canada represents the Veterans Affairs caseworkers who assist the vets with their needs. Sharon DeSousa is the union’s regional executive vice president. She says the number of people who relied on those VA offices is not going down despite government claims. [sc_embed_player fileurl=”http://cjcsradio.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/desousavetnumbers.mp3″] DeSousa says the Veterans Affairs budget has been slashed at a time when the federal government is moving back into a fiscal surplus position. [sc_embed_player fileurl=”http://cjcsradio.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/desousasurplus.mp3″] She also says the VA budget has been hit by disproportionately big budget cuts compared to other ministries. [sc_embed_player fileurl=”http://cjcsradio.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/desousavahardest.mp3″] PSAC covered the travel costs of veterans last week who confronted Minister Julian Fantino about the office closures. Last week, Julian Fantino told the House of Commons that the veterans were duped by the union and being used as pawns. DeSousa scoffs at this assertion and says it’s insulting to our nation’s veterans. [sc_embed_player fileurl=”http://cjcsradio.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/desousafantino.mp3″] Prime Minister Harper, Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino and Perth-Wellington MP Gary Schellenberger voted against the motion. DeSousa encourages people to write and call their representatives. [sc_embed_player fileurl=”http://cjcsradio.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/desousastandup.mp3″] For more information, go to the PSAC website or the Veterans Affairs website.