Hundreds march to protest funding cuts to Saskatoon Lighthouse

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Hundreds march to protest cuts to the Saskatoon Lighthouse
WATCH ABOVE: Over 200 people marched down 2nd Avenue to protest funding cuts to the stabilization unit at the Saskatoon Lighthouse. Jacqueline Wilson reports – Oct 22, 2016

In a sign of solidarity, around 200 people gathered outside of the Saskatoon Lighthouse on Saturday and marched down 2nd Avenue to protest the recent funding cuts to the facility.

“This march is sending the message that people in the community care. It’s a way for ordinary citizen to make their voices heard and apply pressure the government to reverse their decision,” march organizer Peter Garden said.

READ MORE: Lighthouse cut draws criticism from Saskatoon mayoral candidates, homeless

In September, the Saskatchewan government cut funding to the Lighthouse’s stabilization unit, which has been open since 2013. The unit provides a safe place for homeless people struggling with addictions. It’s meant to reduce the number of people detained in police cells and hospitals.

The 38-bed unit used to be open 24 hours a day, but has now been cut to 16.

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“I was talking to some of the staff here and they were almost full, they had 33 people sleeping at night in the days preceding the cuts. That’s dropped dramatically since then so I’m not sure where they are going. But there are certainly people in need that aren’t being housed here,” Garden said.

At the time of the cuts, the provincial government said the Lighthouse didn’t serve enough eligible clients to cover the costs it takes to operate the unit. However, the Saskatchewan Party has said they’re coming up with a long-term funding model and committed $150,000 in the meantime.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan government cuts funding to Lighthouse stabilization unit

But according to several march participants, it’s not enough.

“I’ve worked in shelters before and they really struggle to keep things going. Saskatchewan is a rich province and I don’t see why we can’t fund centers like this and fund them even more,” Rob Butz said.

“Nobody is immune to homelessness, poverty or addiction and this is a resource that the city really needs. They need more of it, not less,” Amy Huebner added.

The goal of many at the march is to have the cuts reversed before winter.

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