Advocates discuss effects of housing insecurity across Saskatchewan
As Camp Marjorie, Regina’s tent town in Core Community Park, is now in its second week, it shows no signs of slowing down, especially with winter approaching.
People facing homelessness say their situation has become more precarious due to the implementation of Saskatchewan’s income support program known as SIS and advocates say Regina is not the only place struggling with this problem.
The SIS replaced the Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP) and the Transitional Employment Allowance (TEA). Both programs were closed on August 31.
“We’re seeing it across the province: La Ronge is getting ready to open a homeless shelter, we’re hearing the same in Prairie Lake, Yorkton, Prince Albert, like we’re seeing homelessness increasing across the province,” Explained Jason Mercredi, general manager of Prairie Harm Reduction in Saskatoon.
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“It’s not just a city affair. In Regina, they organized to create a tent city, ”he added.
Wednesday says there are smaller settlements spread across Saskatoon, particularly in suburban neighborhoods, and if things don’t change soon, he says defenders will have no choice but to put in place a larger and more consolidated camp.
“I think for security reasons we’re going to have to open a tent city here. It’s not something that we want to do, it’s something that we are trying to mitigate in the community, ”Wednesday said.
“A number of our CBOs (community organizations) were working to fix it, but the reality is the snow is about to fall and we have a pretty serious life or death situation ahead,” he said. declared.
Fred Sandeski, director of the Community Low Income Center in Weyburn, said people at SIS who have not yet become homeless must choose between keeping the lights on and having enough food to eat.
“What they do is pay utilities one month and shop for groceries the following month. There is only (so much) that the SIS program has spent on food and that has to include their utilities, ”Sandeski said.
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He goes on to lament that he is also concerned that even more people are falling into homelessness this winter without sufficient safety nets in place.
Last week, Lori Carr, Minister of Social Services for Saskatchewan, made a statement in which she said the Government of Saskatchewan recognizes that every client situation is different, but remains committed to supporting people and low income families.
“SIS takes a ‘block income’ approach by providing a financial benefit for housing and basic needs, with additional benefits available for emergency health and safety needs or to start a new job. He also recognizes that SIS is not the only source of income clients receive, ”Carr’s response read.
“Ministry staff (meet with) clients on a case-by-case basis to help them develop a monthly budget, access all income supports that may be available to them, including provincial and federal benefits. SIS also includes increased earned income exemptions so clients can keep more of what they earn before their benefits are reduced, and supports this client in their transition to self-sufficiency.
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The minister mentioned that customers can switch from TEA or SAP at any time once SIS is launched in July 2019.
“The majority of Income Assistance clients continue to manage their own benefits and finances. This is a similar approach to many other provinces in Canada, including British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba. Being able to manage their own finances is an essential skill for our clients, as it helps ensure that they can find and keep employment without returning to income assistance programs, ”the statement continued.
“For the minority of clients who have difficulty managing their own funds, ministry staff help them make arrangements for a trustee. An administrator can be a friend, family member, community organization, or advocate.
Carr added that the Department of Social Services will continue its outreach efforts to help its clients become self-sufficient to the best of their ability.
– with files from Moises-Canales-Lavigne of Global News
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