Coronavirus: Saskatoon Lighthouse shelter calling for provincial help during pandemic

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Saskatoon’ Lighthouse shelter calling for provincial help with COVID-19
WATCH ABOVE: The Lighthouse Assisted Living shelter is Saskatoon says it needs provincial help to stay open during the coronavirus pandemic – Mar 21, 2020

Anna Pacik, the fundraising manager for Lighthouse Assisted Living, said the shelter needs provincial help to stay open during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have no masks,” Pasik said.

The Lighthouse management elected to keep the shelter open during the coronavirus pandemic despite being unable to provide the proper space for clients to practise social distancing — many of the beds and meals the shelter provides are in shared spaces.

They decided to provide extra sanitization instead.

Pacik said funds were diverted from staffing and essential services towards buying masks and cleaning supplies.

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Programs were also scaled back. Volunteers were cancelled, visitors were banned and hot meals are now being served in bags — communal dining isn’t permitted.

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But, Pacik said, they’re now running low on supplies.

A Lighthouse document, posted on Friday, calls upon the provincial government for financial assistance and to direct the funds, allotted to the shelter by the Ministry of Social Services, directly to the Lighthouse instead of through each individual.

“The current model of funding not only creates long term financial insecurity but currently also exacerbates the risk of spreading the virus to this very vulnerable population,” the statement reads.

Pacik said more funding is needed because the Lighthouse often takes in more clients than they have funding. She said the resources are only made available if someone doesn’t have a home — which, she told Global News, ignores the fact that homes can be unsafe — and if they already have some other type of funding.

She also said providing the funding directly to the Lighthouse would cut down on the need of the clients to travel to the Ministry of Social Services, thereby cutting down on their chances of being exposed to COVID-19.

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“We have a lot of folks with a lot of mental health and addiction issues,” she explained. “Daily life is difficult on a normal day, but if you add this in, it makes things very, very scary for our folks.”

Pacik noted they are still accepting donations of food, clothes and cleaning supplies, but said the funding is what is most needed.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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