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Veterans Affairs offices close today

Veterans and their supporters will muster outside most of the Veterans Affairs offices slated to close today to voice their opposition to the federal government`s decision.

Gatherings are planned in Brandon, Man., Thunder Bay, Ont., Windsor, Ont., Sydney, N.S., Charlottetown and Corner Brook, N.L.

Veterans plan to hold a news conference at a hotel to discuss an office closing in Saskatoon but it was unclear if a protest was planned in Kelowna.

A ninth office has already closed in Prince George, B.C.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has defended the closures this week by saying these “duplicate” veterans offices had a “very small caseload.”

On Thursday, Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino resisted growing pressure to resign over the issue, saying he had no plans to do so and the closures would proceed.

Veterans began clamouring for Fantino’s resignation this week following a testy exchange with former soldiers to discuss the closures.

Fantino reiterated that services are just being shifted to the more generalized Service Canada centres and online, which he claims will enhance access.

He dismissed the public outcry as being manufactured by the Public Service Alliance of Canada, which represents Veteran Affairs staff.

The Canadian Press

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