03/24/2014 03:13 EDT | Updated 05/24/2014 05:59 EDT

Nova Scotia premier still waiting for response on veteran's advocate: official

HALIFAX - Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil has not heard back from Ottawa on his request to create a veterans advocate, the province's deputy minister of intergovernmental affairs said Monday.

Catherine Blewett said McNeil sent a letter to Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino on Feb. 25 asking him to establish the position following the closure of eight regional Veterans Affairs offices.

"We've received no response," Blewett told the provincial legislature's standing committee of veterans affairs.

She said her department was running into similar problems following a request for information from the federal department on the potential effects the closure of the Sydney, N.S., office will have on veterans.

Blewett said the province wanted to understand the demographics of veterans, what conflicts they served in, where they live and what kind of government services they are using.

"They are not getting back to us," said Blewett. "I got a very perfunctory, 'Your request is in the system' sort of email."

Blewett said while Nova Scotia will do what it can to help, the constitutional responsibility for veterans lies with the federal government and the province won't appoint its own advocate.

Fantino's office said in an email that a federal Veterans Affairs expert is in Sydney to help veterans with details on what services are available to them, such as monthly financial benefits and retraining.

The former Sydney office dealt with some 4,200 client files, according to the union for Veterans Affairs workers.

In his letter to Fantino, McNeil said that creating a veteran's advocate would be a positive step for Ottawa to take in light of the office closures, which occurred at the end of January.