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'Nobody's gonna be there': Saskatoon safe consumption site reducing hours amid funding crisis


Prairie Harm Reduction (PHR) is calling on the provincial government for support as it cuts six hours out of its daily operations because of a lack of funding.

As of May 1, the safe consumption site will close at 4 p.m.

“This was an incredibly hard decision,” said Kayla DeMong, PHR executive director.

“But the reality is, with hundreds of more people needing services, our building and our staff currently cannot manage.”

For several years, the site has operated from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

DeMong said PHR is seeing a growing demand, with 200 new individuals using the facility in the past few months.

“When we built this space… we anticipated about 30 people, and we’ve now tripled that and we just don’t have the space,” she said.

DeMong said the site needs about $450,000 to keep up with demand, but it currently has $65,000 in its operating budget. She noted the province does not fund the PHR, and it is supported solely through donations.

“I really do feel like it is the government’s responsibility to step in and make this better, and do what is actually needed to support this community,” she said.

The provincial government has never openly supported the harm reduction model, and over the last year has opted to contribute funding toward abstinence-based approaches.

In a statement to CTV News, the Government of Saskatchewan said it’s focusing on helping people overcome addictions and live life in recovery.

“That is why we are adding 500 addictions treatment spaces across the province to double capacity for treatment,” the statement read.

The province said it provides $2.2 million to PHR for outreach and support programs.

“The Government of Saskatchewan does not fund drug consumption sites.”

DeMong said she is concerned for those who can’t access the site when they need it most.

“At this time our evening staff are attending to multiple overdoses a night outside the building when the safe consumption site is closed,” she said.

“Nobody’s gonna be there and that’s a really scary thing to try to come to terms with.”

DeMong said PHR staff will continue to fundraise to keep services going.

“Creating more treatment beds is not the solution, we need to keep people alive,” she said. Top Stories

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