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Saskatoon Tribal Council shelter to evict dozens with 'complex needs'

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Saskatoon Tribal Council will bar around 30 people with "complex needs" from its Emergency Wellness Centre as of Oct. 1.

"The Wellness Centre will actually be pushing people with complex needs away that are not following the rules in regards to using drugs on our property," Tribal Chief Mark Arcand said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

"They're putting a needle in their arm, or they're using crystal meth and that's the issue. They're not there to get healthy. They're there to actually use drugs in our facility and we've got to find a different mechanism to support those individuals," he said.

"We've been talking to them weekly, daily about what's coming, and they have a choice to make. They know the rules."

While Arcand acknowledges there's nowhere else for homeless people suffering from severe addictions to go, he said the STC is simply not equipped to handle their needs.

"STC is currently not looking [to start] a complex needs facility because I don't have the money to do it. I don't have the money to buy a facility. I don't have the money to run a program for that facility," Arcand said.

"We need facilities in our city ... it needs to be more than one. I'm hoping the City of Saskatoon is listening; the province. No more of these facilities on the west side they got to go to the east side of the city, or the north or the south."

Arcand said the new policy will allow the centre to focus more on families and individuals who the staff are in a better position to help.

He said 68 families and 43 individuals have been successfully housed since the centre opened.

Arcand also revealed the STC has moved 32 families from the wellness centre into a new 55-unit facility called Kotawan 1 — located in the former Monarch Yards building on Avenue K South.

"We've proven it with families and we've proven it that individuals want help. [They] just got to try to get over the hump and we just have this obstacle in this way," Arcand said.

"But we can’t give up on those individuals with complex needs. We've just got to find a place for them to go so they have the proper supports."

When speaking with reporters, Arcand noted the most "chaotic" days at the centre are typically when people suffering from addictions receive their Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS) cheques.

"They're going to use their money to buy things that they don't need. They're not using it to buy food, they're not using it to buy clothes or anything like that."

When SIS was introduced in 2019, it marked a departure from previous social assistance programs where money was paid directly to landlords and utilities. Now funds are provided to clients directly.

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