Provincial Family Services office to close in Killarney

Manitoba gov’t to change headquarters for six provincial services, five employees facing upheaval


In an apparent clandestine sweep, the provincial government is quietly closing down one of their offices in town – without management or employees able to breathe a word of the event.

But the Manitoba Government and General Employees Union (MGEU), who represents the employees, confirmed on Tuesday that the Provincial Services office in Killarney (located on South Railway Street) will in fact be shutting down business in just a matter of weeks, and changing the headquarters for the programs.

May 9 is reported to be the last working day for the five employees – four permanent, and one non-permanent member – who are responsible for the complete processing of six family-oriented services in the province.

These programs include the Primary Caregivers program, the 55-Plus Manitoba Income Supplement, the Manitoba Child Benefit and the Children’s Opti–Care Program, plus the School Tax Assistance for Tenants 55-Plus, and the Portable Housing Benefit program.

Local businessman Brian Moore, who rents building space to the Province of Manitoba at 203 South Railway Street, said he had not yet been formally told of any upcoming change.

“I have heard nothing,” he said. “The Manitoba government leases the whole structure from me. It also includes the Ag Office, and Services for Seniors, who sub-rent it from the province. They can reduce it by square footage if they don’t require the space, but I would need written notice of 30 days.”

Moore said it would be unfortunate to lose the services, and hard on the employees affected.

“In 1991 the Conservative government decided to decentralize services,” he said. “That’s what brought these offices to Killarney. Are they closing this one? With the government, you never know. If they do, it’s not good for the town. And I can’t believe it is a cost-saving measure for the province, because it must be cheaper to run the programs here than in the city of Winnipeg.”

The Provincial Services office debuted in Killarney in 1991 with just one program – CRISP, the Child Related Income Supplement Program, which later became the Manitoba Child Benefit Program.

New programs were added over the years, bringing the services up to the current six programs.

But last month, shocked staff members were informed of the government’s decision to close the office.

To find out more, The Guide contacted the Winnipeg office of the Acting Director for Manitoba Family Services, Dr. Esther Kiernan, on two occasions earlier this week, leaving a number of questions on her voice mail both times.

These included a request for a press release, to confirm the government’s position on the change, and to explain what precipitated the decision to close the Killarney office.

We also asked if the staff in Killarney were offered other employment, and, if so, where.

In addition, we asked if other decentralized offices in the province were also being recentralized to places such as Winnipeg.

We were unable to achieve answers at press time.

Editorial note: The Guide finally received a telephone phone call, from the press office/communications branch of the provincial government, on Thursday afternoon, with a request for written questions regarding the Provincial Services office closure in Killarney. We will be complying with this request, and plan to follow up the above story when information is received here at the newspaper office.


CLOCK TICKING AT KILLARNEY OFFICE – Drop-in clients will no longer be ringing the bell at Killarney’s Provincial Services office at 203 South Railway Street, once it shuts its doors in a few weeks. Wednesday, May 9, will be the last day for the five members of staff who work there.