Government office closure leaves hole in community


Within a few hours on Thursday, everything was packed into trucks, and the Family Services office at 203 South Railway Street was no more.

Staff at the office completed their last day of work on Wednesday, and it was an emotional one.

“Walking in there this morning was like walking into a funeral,” said Michelle Gawronsky, president of the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union, in an interview with The Guide on Wednesday. “We were looking around at all the boxes and all the people’s lives that are all packed up. Most of the staff broke down in tears.”

Gawronsky said the five Killarney staff had accepted jobs in Brandon, but that some of them will now be commuting close to three hours for work. Their olds jobs have now been shifted to staff based out of Winnipeg.

“What struck me the most was the fact that they’re worried about the Manitobans they’ve been serving,” said Gawronsky. “The families and the seniors. They’re worried about what’s going to happen to them. There’s no training that’s been done (in Winnipeg). Their concern is with the 55 plus program and the low income seniors that rely on that funding and that money to come in. If no one’s been trained in how to do this, how is this going to affect the Manitobans they’ve been so proudly looking after?”

Government spokespeople have explained the Killarney office closure as a means of finding efficiencies through the consolidation of office space, but Gawronsky said the province never consulted with the Killarney staff to determine whether there were any internal efficiencies within their operation.

“They never once talked to the front line workers. They’ve never talked to these staff,” she added. “In fact, today was the first time they actually met up with the ADM and the HR manager. And that was a shock for me.”

Gawronsky is adamant that the Killarney office never needed to be closed, and fears it’s part of a larger trend by the Pallister government of centralizing services in Winnipeg.

“There’s no reason that this office had to be closed,” she said. “The work that is done is via telephone and computers. And believe it or not, Manitoba does exist outside the perimeter of Winnipeg. This work could and should have been left alone here.”

MOVING DAY FOR FAMILY SERVICES – Staff at the Family Services office at 203 South Railway Street in Killarney completed their last day of work on Wednesday, May 9. And on Thursday morning three government trucks, with five employees, rolled up to the curb (pictured). Within a few hours, everything was packed, wheeled, and stacked into their vehicles, for removal to other centres.