Saskatoon Tribal Council Denies Complex Needs Individuals over Drug Misuse Concerns

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Commencing October 1, Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) has committed to barring approximately 30 individuals with “complex needs” from the Emergency Wellness Centre. Tribal Chief Mark Arcand made it clear during a press briefing that the center will be effectively turning away individuals with complex needs who violate the property’s rules regarding illicit drug use.

According to Arcand, these individuals are not at the center to undertake the journey towards wellness and health, but rather, to abuse prohibited substances within the facility’s premises. Despite numerous discussions with these individuals about impending decisions, they continue to disregard the rules.

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While Chief Arcand recognizes that other avenues for homeless people grappling with serious addictions are limited, he insists that the STC lacks the necessary resources to adequately address their needs. Building a complex needs facility isn’t within their budget as it involves the cost of both establishing and maintaining such a program.

He affirms the necessities for more facilities within the city, and stresses that their location shouldn’t be limited to one specific area. Efforts should be made throughout the city—east, north, south, and even west— to expand the availability of resources.

Arcand believes that this new policy will enable the center to concentrate more effectively on families and individuals that their staff are better equipped to assist. He proudly shared that since its inception, the center has successfully provided housing to 68 families and 43 individuals. Under STC’s wing, 32 families from the wellness center have also found a home at Kotawan 1, a new 55-unit facility named after the former Monarch Yards building.

Despite the challenges, Arcand believes in the potential of individuals seeking help and asserts the need to persistently find appropriate supports for those with complex needs. However, he brought forward a concerning issue about resource utilization where he observed that the most unruly days at the center are often when individuals receive their Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS) cheques. Instead of spending it on the necessities such as food and clothing, they misuse these funds.

Chief Arcand concluded the briefing on a contemplative note over the changes in the SIS system introduced in 2019. Unlike earlier assistance programs that sent money straight to landlords and utilities, the SIS now provides the funds directly to clients.

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