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Saskatoon small businesses donate to supervised consumption site

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WATCH: More than 20 small businesses in Saskatoon are raising money and donating it to Prairie Harm Reduction, after the supervised consumption site did not receive more provincial funding in Tuesday's budget – Apr 11, 2021

More than 20 small businesses in Saskatoon are pledging to donate funds to Prairie Harm Reduction (PHR).

The companies are posting statements on social media, promising to send funds to the supervised consumption site after the provincial government decided not to provide an additional $1.3 million to PHR in the recent provincial budget.

PHR requested the funds so the site could operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help more clients.

Read more: Saskatchewan government denies new funding for supervised consumption site

Steven Hawrishok, owner of Kitako Lake Honey, along with The Better Good, raised $900 for PHR.

“It occurred to me that this would be a way to raise a bit of awareness and hopefully raise a bit of money through the avenue that I have available, which is selling honey,” Hawrishok said, speaking over Zoom from near Naicam, Sask.

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When asked why a honey farmer outside of a small town was interested in supporting an organization in downtown Saskatoon, he said he considers the city his second home — and has also known people struggling with addictions and who died from an overdose.

“We need to support organizations like this who save lives and harm reduction in general saves lives,” he said.

“This is just one more cause, another chance for us to step up and do what we can to help somebody that needs a little bit of extra help,” Jody Taylor said.

Taylor is the kitchen manager of Sparrow Coffee, in Saskatoon’s City Park neighbourhood.

The café’s owners are donating a dollar from every sale of a citrus cardamom bun in April.

He said it was “something that we know we do well and we can do lots of. And we can take that opportunity to give back as much as we can.”

“I’ve known lots of cooks that have struggled with addictions and met a lot of people in my life that can use facilities like this.”

Read more: Fundraiser goals reached by 2 Saskatoon organizations, Kinsmen Club to match donations

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Breanna Coates pledged to donate 80 per cent of income earned from her flower business, Bre’s Blooms, this year.

“There are so many overdoses this year in Saskatoon. … That’s somebody’s mom. That’s somebody’s friend,” she said, speaking over Zoom.

The fourth-year nursing student called the decision a “no-brainer.”

Jason Mercredi, the executive director of PHR, said he wasn’t expecting the support.

He said it was humbling.

“(The owners) are donating what they can, which is amazing. And all those things are going to add up into us being able to continue operations this year,” he said.

He also said the fact that funding fell to small businesses proved the Saskatchewan government was ignoring a crisis.

“I think it’s pretty clear the government’s checked out of this problem. They’re not taking any responsibility,” he said.

According to the Saskatchewan Coroner’s Service, 336 people died from either overdose or suspected overdose in 2020.

Between Jan. 1 and April 6 this year, 106 people have died from the same causes.

When asked about funding PHR on Tuesday, Finance Minister Donna Harpauer said the province had chosen to fund effective treatment measures, like funding new treatment beds and improving access to naloxone.

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Read more: Fundraiser goals reached by 2 Saskatoon organizations, Kinsmen Club to match donations

When pressed on the matter on budget day, the minister responsible for rural addictions and mental health, Everett Hindley, said the government is focusing on a wide-ranging approach to address the challenge.

The province is maintaining the current funding to PHR, around $900,000 from the ministries of Health and Social Services, which helps PHR operate regular business hours.

Mercredi said staff are always needed, especially on weekends and overnight.

“The budget came out Tuesday, our waiting room was full, the consumption site was full pretty much open until close.”

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