NDP calls on Saskatchewan government to fund North Battleford homeless shelter

·2 min read

NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. — Saskatchewan's Opposition NDP is calling on the provincial government to help maintain a homeless shelter in North Battleford that is to close April 1 due to lack of funding.

Don Windels, executive director of Lighthouse Supported Living, says 22 full and part-time staff at The Lighthouse emergency facility have received layoff notices.

He says the shelter has space for 37 people and will try to find new housing for them.

Windels says the shelter depended on around $500,000 in core funding from the Provincial Metis Housing Corporation and says it costs about $800,000 per year to operate.

He says the corporation wants to focus on housing in the north and believes shelters should be the province's responsibility.

In a news release, NDP Leader Ryan Meili called on Premier Scott Moe to ensure funding is in place to keep The Lighthouse shelter open in North Battleford.

"Saskatchewan is in the midst of two public health crises. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the overdose crisis that is taking a brutal toll in lives across our province," Meili said Friday.

"It is unacceptable that the Sask. Party government would allow the crucial work the North Battleford Lighthouse does in service of the most vulnerable to be shut down due to lack of funding."

The Ministry of Social Services said it increased provincial funding to the shelter last April and in November to help offset extra COVID-19 related services.

The ministry said it has met with Lighthouse staff to discuss the shelter's loss of federal funding and had meetings with Indigenous Services Canada to determine what other money might be available.

"We continue to work with the North Battleford Lighthouse emergency shelter and other partners in the community to support income assistance clients," the ministry said in an email.

"We are also continuing to provide income assistance benefits for per diems to emergency shelter for individuals in need.” (CTV, The Canadian Press)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021

The Canadian Press