Conservative Leader offers to save National Archives Program if elected PM
Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa
Published Thursday, May 9, 2019 5:23PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 9, 2019 6:36PM EDT
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has promised to save the jobs of 34 employees with developmental disabilities.
CTV news first broke the story earlier this week that the national archives program was ending.
This morning, Scheer met with the workers to reassure them that won't happen, telling the workers that they will have jobs well into the future, with an immediate commitment for 5 years.
There's just one caveat. He's got to be elected Prime Minister.
Sheer and Ottawa MP Pierre Poilievre filed into the Personnel Records Centre at Tunney's Pasture to conduct a private meeting with about 20 of the employees of the National Archives Program.
But they chose a more public venue to talk to the group about their announcement.
“As prime minister,” Scheer told the group, “I will make sure program continues into future so you always have this place to come to.”
The employees are all part of a program working with the federal government that's been in place for 38 years here, first shredding documents but most recently, sorting and recycling paper. But the program will end next March.
This is the second time the program has been on the chopping block; the first time was in 2015 under the Conservative government of Stephen Harper. That decision was reversed after an uproar.
“What did you hear from him?” Gladys Whincup, an employee with the National Archives Program is asked, “That our jobs are going to get saved,” she says, “That’s good.”
Tara St-Arnaud adds, “Whoever wants to close us down, they're losing, we're winning.”
But a group that speaks to the need for inclusion questions whether anyone is winning with the National Archives Program. Shelley Fletcher is the Executive Director of People First of Canada, a national voice for people who have been labelled with an intellectual disability.
“There is a sense of tokenism,” says Fletcher, “that comes with people going to work and doing redundant work just so they have a job.”
The Minister of Accessibility promises the workers will have jobs but Carla Qualtrough says they will be more meaningful ones.
“The reality is that we need to transition them to other employment,” Qualtrough said, “and we are pulling out all the stops to make sure they have jobs to go to while recognizing that anyone changing a job is tough.”
You won't get an argument from the 34 employees on that.
“I love Public Archives,” says employee Brenda Surkund, “I don't want it closed down because I love to make money for a living.”