Sask. government gives homeless men one-way bus tickets to B.C.
Published Wednesday, March 9, 2016 4:21PM PST
Last Updated Wednesday, March 9, 2016 7:23PM PST
The government of Saskatchewan has promised a review after social workers allegedly put two homeless men on a bus to B.C. without making any further arrangements for them.
The young men, one of whom is just 21 years old and has mental health issues, had been staying at an emergency shelter in the small community of North Battleford when the province decided to stop funding their stay on Tuesday.
“We are funded per person, per day,” said Caitlin Glencross, manager of The Lighthouse homeless shelter .
Instead, the government agreed to buy the men one-way Greyhound tickets to Vancouver and Victoria at a cost of about $500.
One of the men told Glencross that social workers asked whether he knew anyone outside Saskatchewan, and he answered that a friend of his family’s lives on B.C.'s Sunshine Coast.
“That’s as far as the case planning went, according to the information we received from the client,” Glencross said.
"I've never seen a Saskatchewan resident offered that when there's no job at the other end, there's no secure housing at the other end. So it's very concerning."
The men then boarded a bus that was scheduled to arrive on the West Coast on Wednesday, the same day the City of Vancouver is beginning its annual homeless count.
Coun. Kerry Jang said he was appalled to learn about the way the situation was handled by the Saskatchewan government.
“How can you treat people like cattle, with no feeling, no regard, and absolutely no assistance?” Jang said. “I was absolutely disgusted.”
Jang said he’s heard rumours about other jurisdictions pulling similar maneuvers before, but has never actually seen it happen in all his time in office.
Vancouver will do its best to help anyone who arrives, Jang added, but the city is planning to send a response to the Saskatchewan government chastising it for its homeless policies, which he described as “draconian.”
“We need to make sure people are treated as human beings. It’s human dignity that gets them on their feet and into recovery,” he said.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps echoed those sentiments, and said her city is already struggling to take care of its current homeless population.
Saskatchewan’s Minister of Social Services, Donna Harpauer, said provincial regulations require that a case plan be established by social workers “before transportation be provided.”
Her deputy will be reviewing whether arrangements were made for either of the two homeless men before they were sent to B.C., Harpauer added.
“He will be reminding front line workers that clients should have a plan in place before they are given bus tickets for destinations away,” she told CTV News in an email statement.
It’s possible that one of the men might not be making it all the way to the West Coast. Glencross said she’s received word that the man who was Vancouver-bound exited his bus in Alberta.
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Shannon Paterson