Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alberta Mayor, MP Say They Will Fight Move of Immigration Processing Centre

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alberta Mayor, MP Say They Will Fight Move of Immigration Processing Centre

Article excerpt

Town 'blindsided' by immigration centre move

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VEGREVILLE, Alta. - The mayor of an Alberta town says he will fight the relocation of the federal immigration and refugee processing centre that has been the community's major employer since it opened in 1994.

Vegreville Mayor Myron Hayduk says workers at the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Case Processing Centre were told Thursday it will be relocated to Edmonton in 2018 when its lease expires.

He says federal department officials didn't inform him about this and he only learned about the meeting with workers via an anonymous call.

Hayduk says the move and loss of more than 200 jobs will devastate the town of 6,000, as well as surrounding towns.

"When you take the ratios, we're losing a minimum of 200 jobs and if you took that same ratio population-wise to Edmonton, it would be like Edmonton losing 3,500 jobs," Hayduk said.

"We are not going to take this lying down. If I have to make a trip to Ottawa myself and jump up and down in front there, I will do it. This is, this is just too damn much for a town of our size."

Sonia Lesage, spokeswoman for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, said the decision to move the centre was a difficult one.

"In negotiating a new lease, the department has made the difficult decision to move its case processing centre from Vegreville 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," Lesage said in a email late Thursday night.

"We recognize this relocation will have an impact on existing staff and are making every effort to minimize those impacts."

Lesage said employees will be able to keep their current jobs at the new office in Edmonton, which is 100 kilometres west of Vegreville. …

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