VEGREVILLE, Alta. – A study commissioned by a town in eastern Alberta suggests the closure of a federal immigration processing centre would be economically devastating.
Vegreville would suffer a permanent drop in population, lower property values and higher unemployment if the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Case Processing Centre moves to Edmonton, according to the report.
The federal government announced late last year it was relocating the centre, which employs 236 people, by the end of 2018 to improve service.
The report suggests Vegreville could lose up to 420 people, or 7.3 per cent of the population, and the town believes about 130 students would be lost from local schools.
It could also lead to a 30 per cent decrease in home prices.
The centre opened in Vegreville in 1994 and has been one of the town’s largest employers for over 20 years.
“The government’s decision to close the CPC means Vegreville will be older, smaller and poorer. This is exactly the opposite of what the government promised to do for rural Canada in the last election,” Mayor Myron Hayduk said.
The union representing workers at the centre met with Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen on Monday.
“The bottom line is that the department doesn’t need to close the Case Processing Centre in Vegreville in order to expand operations in Edmonton,” said Marianne Hladun, executive vice president of the Prairies Regional branch of the Public Service Alliance of Canada.