The Saskatchewan government has cut funding to the Lighthouse’s stabilization unit, leaving unanswered questions on the possible trickledown effect this could have on Saskatoon police.
After a complete funding review, the Saskatchewan government said it has concluded that the Lighthouse does not serve enough eligible clients to cover the costs it takes to operate the unit.
The review found that over the past year, only five people completed the transition to stable housing.
The funding cut comes eight months after the stabilization unit, a safe, secure place for people under the influence, was forced to reduce its hours to evening and overnight service.
The stabilization unit was opened in 2013 to help homeless people struggling with addictions and reduce the number of people detained in police cells.
“If we come across somebody that’s intoxicated rather than bringing them to a police detention centre for their addiction issue we can take them to the Lighthouse where they’re there with dignity and they have a place to stay,” said Saskatoon police chief Clive Weighill.
“These are primly people who aren’t violent, that aren’t going to cause a problem on the street but for their own safety they’re being arrested so that’s why we’re saying we don’t want them in our detention centre that’s not the proper place for them.”
Weighill said the number of intoxicated individuals being housed in detention cells dropped by 20 to 25 per cent when the stabilization unit expanded from 20 to 38 beds in 2015.
In response to the news that the government is cutting funding for the stabilization centre, NDP Social Services Critic Nicole Rancourt said there is a great need for this shelter in Saskatoon.
“They need to work to implement real solutions to homelessness,” said Rancourt.
According to the province, the Saskatoon Health Region (SHR) funding has not changed.
The region will continue to provide over $620,000 in funding this year to assist people at the Lighthouse with mental health and addiction issues.
Meaghan Craig contributed to this story