Saturday, February 20, 2016

Letting the drunk poors freeze

You can recognize when the Sask Party government is doing something based on ideology rather than common sense.
First, they won't announce it or admit to doing it.
Second, when finally called on it, they can't explain it in a way that makes any sense.
And third, its always about money. Added bonus: when it grinds a few more bucks from the poors, just to show them they have no right to exist in The New Saskatchewan.
The latest is that Saskatchewan social services apparently decided IN NOVEMBER that it would refuse to pay anymore for emergency beds for drunks. Yes, just as Saskatchewan was heading into its coldest time of year, our Social Services agency apparently decided it doesn't care if drunk people freeze in the streets.
After all, drunk poors -- why should our government waste its beautiful mind worrying about what happens to them anyway?
As a result, the Lighthouse in North Battleford, which annoyingly persists in providing emergency beds for drunk people, is no longer getting enough funding from Social Services to stay open.  And the Saskatoon Lighthouse is in financial trouble too.
We're presently at the denial and obfuscation stage in this story -- Social Services denies funding rule change at North Battleford shelter . Here's the nut graph:
In a Dec. 16, 2015 message from a ministry employee, Glencross ...was told, “Social Services mandate is to provide emergency shelter for the homeless who have no other means to meet their immediate need of shelter. Our mandate is not to fund the lodging of publicly intoxicated individuals.
A more inclusive community response including police and health services may be required for the latter.”
These people need emergency help  because the Sally Ann won't admit people who have been drinking.  And the police have been trying not to spend their limited time and resources arresting harmless drunks just to get them off the streets when it is cold.
Last winter, the social services ministry apparently stepped up. This winter, not.
The rest of the news story quoted above is a sorry mess of disingenuous bafflegab:
When asked if liability for refusing services to intoxicated people is a concern for the Ministry, Redekop said he wasn’t familiar with where the statement came from, that he isn’t qualified to provide a legal response and that he is “not specifically” aware of any discussions about liability for refusing intoxicated people.
“I didn’t say if I’m aware of the issue or not,” he said.
“We would need to have more information about what the question means. Liability is obviously a very big issue and there’s a lot of elements to it that are beyond my ability to discuss without maybe a legal opinion.
“I want to make sure I’m giving you good information rather than getting into something I don’t have specific information about,” he said.
Redekop stressed the ministry provides shelter in the short term and in the daytime staff work to find the right solution.
“They may be eligible for other programs,” he said.
When asked if the programs are adequate, he said, “Adequate is a very subjective word.”
And we're not exactly talking luxury accommodation -- here's the room in the North Battleford Lightouse where the men sleep:

NORTH BATTLEFORD —  Beds in the men's dorm at the Lighthouse shelter in North Battleford.

Its a few bucks a night, folks.  But its enough to prevent people from freezing to death.
Social Services minister Donna Hapnauer is still denying there has been any change in policy or else its all the auditor's fault or else its Lighthouse's own fault, or something:
Harpauer said they have a mandate from the provincial auditor to scrutinize the organizations managing shelters to ensure they aren't doubling paying for someone.
"The other community based partners that we work with for emergency shelter provisions have not had this issue. "When (Lighthouse) expanded their services with the stabilization unit, their intake rose significantly which brought them under a bit more scrutiny," said Harpauer, adding the stabilization unit was launched without their input or funding to sustain it.
Yeah, right --how dare Lighthouse develop a program for the poorest of the poor?
“This particular shelter is aimed at individuals who are the most chronically homeless and who often have been kicked out of every other waiting room and 24-hour coffee shop. So there's not a lot of places for them to go,” DeeAnn Mercier, communications director with the Lighthouse, said.
The Star Phoenix ran an editorial about this today, calling out the Social Services ministry for what they are doing (not posted yet so no link).
So I expect we'll be at stage two next week.

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