'No warning': On talk radio, Sask. minister announces Lighthouse funding will end
'No warning': On talk radio, Sask. minister announces Lighthouse funding will end
Less than a month after stepping into the role, during an appearance on a talk radio show, Saskatchewan's new social services minister announced plans to cut funding to Saskatoon's permanent downtown shelter.
"I've been hearing from my fellow MLAs you know, folks up in Saskatoon about the situation around the Lighthouse (Supported Living)," Gene Makowsky said during an interview with CKOM personality John Gormley.
"I've become concerned about the model that they have at the Lighthouse with having so many services concentrated in one area in downtown Saskatoon. So, for those reasons, what I and the government have decided to do is to move those services out of the Lighthouse," Makowsky said.
The minister said the Lighthouse's supported independent living services will be among the programs that will be moved.
He said funding from his ministry, as well as the province's health ministry, will end.
Makowsky said the province is "looking at" the Saskatoon Tribal Council's (STC) shelter model as an alternative.
The STC opened its temporary wellness centre late last year and has plans to open a permanent location on 20th Street West.
Makowsky said the transition will not be an "overnight thing."
"We have to get this right. We have to do a reasonable transition going forward," Makowsky said.
His statements come following the public disclosure of an investigation involving Lighthouse Executive Director Don Windels, largely focused on his use of shelter funds for personal loans.
Windels is currently on leave and is awaiting the outcome of a court appeal after a judge ordered him removed from his role in December.
Since he was placed on leave earlier this year, two board members, Jerome Hepfner and Twila Reddekopp, have been overseeing day-to-day operations at the shelter.
In a statement sent to media Thursday afternoon, Hepfner said Makowsky's announcement came as a surprise.
"We had no warning and are expecting to discuss with the ministries of social service and health, the services that will remain available at the Lighthouse and the path forward," Hepfner said.
"Our concern is for Saskatoon’s homeless people, and we will work with our partners and the Saskatoon Tribal Council or any other organization where services might be moved, to ensure that homeless shelter services are maintained and that the transition is as smooth as possible," Hepfner said.
In response to a request for more details concerning the plan, the Saskatchewan government provided an emailed statement.
"The Lighthouse faces challenges including governance, management, and financial controls along with safety concerns due to the concentration of services in one location," the statement said.
"In consideration of these concerns, the Government of Saskatchewan will transition services to other partners," the statement said.
ALL GOVERNMENT-FUNDED SERVICES WILL BE MOVED
In a follow-up satement sent later in the day, Hepfner said he was told Thursday afternoon that all government-funded services that are provided by the Lighthouse will be moved to alternate providers.
"Up until this point, we have been in close contact with social services for more than one year," Hepfner said.
"They were aware of every decision we made before we took action and have been inside of every detail from day one."
Hepfner reiterated the announcement came as a "complete surprise with no prior communication or indication this was something being contemplated."
He said the Lighthouse received a call from the social services ministry at 10 a.m. informing it of a decision related only to shelter services.
"There was no indication during this call that other services would be impacted," Hepfner said.
"It is my understanding that this call was immediately prior to or even during the time when the minister went live on the air."
Minister Makowsky informed me of this announcement this morning. At this time, I don’t have any timelines or details of what this transition will look like.
Mayor Charlie Clark said he was informed of Makowsky's announcement Thursday morning.
"We have an escalating crisis of homelessness, addictions and mental health in our community," Clark said in a statement.
"We are in a fragile moment. Any transition needs to result in a net improvement of services and supports to people who need them, as well as the overall safety and well-being of our community. I emphasized this to Minister Makowsky," Clark said.
He said over the years he has "consistently raised my concerns about an overconcentration of services and people in one place at the Lighthouse."
"The city has been stepping up in numerous ways to address the challenges we see people facing. We will continue to participate and support coordinated efforts to build safety and well being for everyone," Clark said.
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
'The Satanic Verses' author Salman Rushdie was taken off a ventilator and able to talk Saturday, a day after he was stabbed as he prepared to give a lecture in upstate New York.
Police arrested three Arizona parents, shocking two of them with stun guns, as they tried to force their way into a school that police locked down Friday after an armed man was seen trying to get on campus, authorities said.
The Canada Border Services Agency is temporarily allowing fully vaccinated travellers a one-time exemption to not be penalized if they were unaware of the health documents required through ArriveCAN.
Average rent in Canada for all properties rose more than 10 per cent year-over-year in July, according to a recent nationwide analysis of listings on Rentals.ca.
Volunteers armed with smartphones are using a 3D-modelling app to preserve Ukraine's cultural heritage one snap at a time.
More Canadians are ending their lives with a medically-assisted death, says the third federal annual report on medical assistance in dying (MAID). Data shows that 10,064 people died in 2021 with medical aid, an increase of 32 per cent over 2020.
The Los Angeles Police Department has ended its investigation into Anne Heche's car accident, when the actor crashed into a Los Angeles home on Aug. 5.
The FBI recovered documents that were labelled 'top secret' from former U.S. President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, according to court papers released Friday after a federal judge unsealed the warrant that authorized the unprecedented search this week.
Canadian writers, publishers and literary figures doubled down on the right to freedom of thought and expression on Saturday, one day after an attack on award-winning author Salman Rushdie that left him hospitalized and on a ventilator.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) has alerted the public to the elevated risk of acquiring Monkeypox through anonymous sexual contact.
Regina’s city council is set to consider putting $200,000 towards a bid to host the 2024 Brier.
Canadian Blood Services says it is in talks with companies that pay donors for plasma as it faces a decrease in collections.
On top of getting a chance to highlight different cultures, Folklorama is also proving to be an important source of funding for local cultural groups.
'When we all join together, that's when true healing takes place': powwow teaches indigenous culture
It was an afternoon of drums, dancing, and reconciliation as 1justcity held its third annual demonstration powwow at Vimy Ridge Park Sunday.
A new survey says nearly half of Canadians think their downtown has declined in the last year, but Winnipeg's downtown advocates say they are optimistic about its future, and are working hard to make downtown a safe space for everyone.
Officials say a driver has died after a serious crash early Saturday morning in southwest Calgary.
Friday night's thunderstorm had Calgarians in every corner of the city watching the skies, but it was too close for comfort for one family in Wildwood.
A couple thousand Calgarians wore colourful costumes, played traditional music and danced for hours in the downtown streets Saturday morning to celebrate Caribbean culture.
A group of volunteers is regularly conducting community patrols in Chinatown to help document vandalism and make the area a safer space for area businesses and residents.
Hereditary chiefs from Wet’suwet’en were in Edmonton on Saturday to bring attention to the Coastal GasLink pipeline being built on their traditional lands near Smithers, B.C.
Six fire crews responded to a single-family home west of Commonwealth Stadium that went up in flames Saturday morning.
About 14 per cent of Ontario hospitals reporting less than a week supply of epidural catheters: Ontario Health
Approximately 14 per cent of hospitals in Ontario are reporting they have less than a week’s worth of epidural catheters in stock, according to an Ontario Health memo sent to hospital chief executive officers on Friday.
A man who allegedly stabbed a woman and held a child inside a Scarborough home was fatally shot by Toronto police officers following an interaction on Saturday afternoon.
A Brampton teen has been arrested in connection with the murder of a well-known Toronto rapper who was gunned down in the city’s Entertainment District over two years ago.
Commuters face slowdowns on several roads in Ottawa this weekend, as all eastbound and westbound lanes of Hwy. 417 are closed between Metcalfe Street and Carling/Kirkwood Avenues for the replacement of the Booth Street Bridge.
As rents continue to rise for one-and-two bedroom apartments in Ottawa and Gatineau this summer, a new report shows rents are decreasing in the Ottawa neighbourhoods of Nepean and Gloucester.
There was a swift response from the community to help find a missing bicycle cart owned by a popular ice cream shop.
Beaches at Richmond's Garry Point Park are closed after the Canadian Coast Guard investigated and try to clean up a recent diesel spill.
A B.C. lawyer has been sentenced to 22 months in jail after pleading guilty to forging documents that he submitted to Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board over a period of nearly 10 years
A high-risk sex offender who went missing soon after being released from prison to a halfway house in Vancouver is back in custody, police said Saturday.
The distinct twang of country music is rining throughout the air of Montreal's Parc Jean-Drapeau this weekend as Quebecer group the Mountain Daisies kicked off the Lasso Montreal country music festival Friday night.
"Real issues, real solutions" will be the new slogan of the Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) for the Oct. 3 elections.
An 85-year-old man is in critical condition Saturday after being struck by a car in Brossard, a municipality in Greater Montreal.
As the B.C. government promises deferrals of old-growth logging and protesters push for the end of the practice entirely, videos recently recorded on northern Vancouver Island put the old-growth fight into perspective for the man who shot them.
Since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Peter takes Janice for romantic rides on his wheelchair. They travel along the city's bike lanes and waterfront paths, with her sitting sideways across his lap.
Police in Victoria are investigating what they call a "sudden death" in the city Saturday morning.
At this time, the Monkeypox vaccine is not widely available to the public.
Kristen Hayes lives close to the hospital in Yarmouth, N.S., but she says that twice in the past month, her son, who has a rare form of epilepsy, has been taken by ambulance to the emergency room there, only to be left waiting.
Officials in central Newfoundland are asking people to stop using forest roads to check on their cabins even though the threat of wildfires has eased for local communities and a state of emergency has been lifted.
One person is dead following an ATV collision Saturday afternoon.
A 34-year-old man has been arrested and charged following a homicide in Sudbury on Thursday.
One woman is dead in what police will only call a suspicious death in the city.
CTV News London has learned that London native and NHL superstar Nazem Kadri will bring the Stanley Cup to London later this month.
Police have arrested a suspect in connection with a shooting in Hanover earlier this week.
'It’s going to look like New York City': Apple TV series to film in downtown London, Ont. this month
One block of Richmond Street is about to transform into New York City. CTV News London has learned the Apple TV series “Improbable Valentine” — based off the book "The Changeling" — will be filming in downtown London later this month.