Saskatchewan homeless men given one-way bus tickets arrive in ...
"I asked for a ticket and five minutes later I had it printed off and I was leaving that night."The United Gospel Mission has stepped up to feed and house the men tonight, and will connect them with a case worker.FULL STORY: http://www.cknw.com/2016/03/09/saskatchewan-government-ships-two-homeless-men-to-bc/Posted by News Talk 980 CKNW on Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Tow young homeless men from Saskatchewan who were given a one way bus ticket to Vancouver by that’s province’s social service workers, – have arrived in the city.
Greeted by outreach workers from the Union Gospel Mission upon arrival at Pacific Central Station, 23 year old Charles Neil Curly says he’s been homeless for around five months but was denied funding to stay at the North Battleford Lighthouse homeless shelter in Saskatchewan.
“The Lighthouse gave me all the support I needed but it was just my funding. They didn’t even give me help for quite a few months so the shelter actually paid for my stay out of their own pocket.”
That’s why he, and his homeless companion 21 year old Jeremy Roy, asked for one-way bus tickets to BC.
Neil-Curly, who previously lived in Victoria for 15 years, hopes to start a new life.
“Maybe support to get a job, maybe find a place so I can start up my own life here.”
The Union Gospel Mission has stepped forward to provide food and shelter for the men tonight, and will help connect them with local services.
UGM spokesperson Jeremy Hunka says the pair will be provided a warm bed and a hot meal…
“And then we will connect them with a case worker who will be able to assess their needs, come up with a plan, make sure that if they need medical attention or anything else that they need that we will provide, we will connect them to the right people.”
“We were surprised and we were concerned when we heard that they were being put on a bus. We knew we needed to step up because coming to Vancouver without a plan, without a place to stay, and joining the other people struggling on the streets is a bad situation for Vancouver and especially for them, it is dangerous.”
Neil-Curly says they plan to travel to Victoria to meet up with friends.
Mental health issues and no connections in Vancouver
Vancouver City councillor Kerry Jang says he finds it appalling.
“I just couldn’t believe the inhumane treatment of these two individuals by the Saskatchewan government, I mean you don’t treat human beings that way.”
“When I read the story, one of them apparently has some mental health issues — you just simply throw them on the bus send them somewhere else far across the country with no connections, no services, no support, I mean what does that say? It’s disgusting.”
Jang says he’s heard anecdotal evidence of homeless people being sent to the West Coast, but says this is the first time he’s seen it happen.
He says it doesn’t make sense to put someone on a bus without a plan for what will happen when they arrive at the other end.
Denied funding to stay in Saskatchewan shelter; bought one-way tickets to BC instead
According to the Star Phoenix , the Saskatchewan government had denied provincial funding for the men to stay overnight at a shelter in North Battleford.
The manager of the Lighthouse shelter in North Battleford says she’s seen the province send homeless people back to their home provinces, but never seen Saskatchewan residents issued one-way tickets out of province before.
Saskatchewan Social Services Ministry, policy not followed
The ministries policies allow for out of province travel under certain circumstances like a job opportunity, medical treatment, or if they have family in another province.
It also allows costs covered for special circumstances with approval from the minister.
Saskatchewan Social Services minister Donna Harpauer, in a statement, says a case plan is required before transportation costs can be covered to anywhere.
Harpauer says this case is now under review and front line social workers in Saskatchewan will be reminded of the rules.
It’s important not to view the homeless as statistics
Jonathan Oldman is the executive director of The Bloom Group, an organization providing social services to Vancouver’s downtown east side homeless population.
He says it’s important to look at individual needs and preferences, and not to view homeless people as statistics.
“We are meeting them where they are at in their lives, whether that is emotionally, financially, geographically, it all starts with the person. It starts with the story behind an individual. Someone is not just a number, people become homeless for a reason.”
One of the men will arrive in Victoria, and the other to Vancouver where he has no personal connections.