Saskatoon sees more intoxicated people placed in police cells: Fewer police referrals being checked into Lighthouse Stabilization Unit

From CBC News Saskatoon, May 23, 2017

The number of people arrested for public intoxication and placed in a Saskatoon police holding cell is increasing for the first time in four years, according to a new report.

The latest Action Accord Statistical Review shows the Saskatoon Police Service arrested and put 1,814 intoxicated people in a cell last year.

That's up from 1,578 cases in 2015, reversing a three-year declining trend from 2012 to 2015.

Fewer intoxicated people who were referred by police to the Lighthouse Stabilization Unit actually made it into the centre in the last two years, the report also shows.

Police refer people to the Lighthouse Stabilization Unit, but fewer of them are actually ending up there compared to previous years. (Saskatoon Action Accord)

Launched in 2013 and housed within the larger Lighthouse Supported Living facility in downtown Saskatoon, the 38-bed stabilization unit provides shelter for homeless people who are under the influence but don't need medical attention.

Overall usage, including self-check-ins, has increased every year since its opening, to a high of 7,932 people in 2016. 

But funding issues have plagued the facility in recent years. 

The provincial government's funding mechanism for the Lighthouse underwent some changes in early 2016. That prompted the Lighthouse to cut its daytime emergency shelter service, limiting operating hours to 4 p.m. to 8 a.m.

"I think you can directly connect the correlation between that reduction in funding for programs to the increase of intoxicated people in Saskatoon police service cells," said Darren Hill, a member of the Board of Police Commissioners and city councillor for Ward 1.

Councillor Darren Hill is member of the Board of Police Commissioners and says the findings will likely be relayed to Saskatchewan's minister of social services. (David Shield/CBC News)

But the statistics review, while acknowledging the "funding issues" leading to the reduced hours, says the Lighthouse's role began to decline even before then.

"During 2015, a number of individuals who had used the Lighthouse Stabilization services previously could no longer do so due to prior behaviours," the report states.

Hill says a cell is the last place an intoxicated person should be.

"They need to be someplace where they have the proper monitoring as well as the proper programs, assessments and counselling to be able to address those addictions. That's not a holding cell," he said.

But an overwhelmed system accounted for why fewer police referrals made it to the Saskatoon Health Region's 12-bed Brief Detoxification Unit in the last two years, according to the report.

At the BDU, patients undergo 12-hour monitoring from an emergency medical technician and are offered addiction counselling.

"The BDU has been 'too full, too early in the day' to allow the Saskatoon Police Service to use the facility as an alternative to police service cells as often as they would like," according to the report.

"Although access to the BDU improved for the Police Service when The Lighthouse came on stream in 2013, its availability for SPS referrals began to decline to previous levels during 2015 and 2016."

The Board of Police Commissioners will discuss the report on Wednesday.

"I imagine there will be some course of action, a conversation, from our board chair to the minister of social services, Tina Beaudry-Mellor, to make sure she aware of what's been identified in that report," said Hill. 

"Because I think those stats are going to be important to her."

The overall proportion of people housed at the Lighthouse (as opposed to a cell or the Brief Detoxification Unit) decreased in the last year to 13 per cent from 20 per cent.

But the report from the accord says that may be partly due to the introduction in 2013 of the Community Support Program, which is meant to prevent someone from being arrested for intoxication in the first place.

The accord's five members are the Saskatoon Police Service, the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners, Saskatoon Tribal Council, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and the Saskatoon Health Region.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/years-decline-saskatoon-uptick-drunks-police-cells-1.4127059

Saskatoon police taking a zero-tolerance approach towards public intoxication: Number of intoxicated people placed in police cells on the rise

From CBC News Saskatoon, May 24, 2017

Saskatoon police Chief Clive Weighill says officers are arresting more people who are drunk or high on city streets.

After receiving complaints from the public and business groups, Weighill has instituted a zero-tolerance approach to public intoxication in downtown areas.

"We've had a lot of people that were walking around downtown, Riversdale, the Broadway area that were intoxicated," he said. "We want to make sure people are safe on the streets."

According to a new report, police put 1,814 intoxicated people into holding cells last year. In 2015, that number sat at 1,578 cases.

From 2012-15, those numbers had been dropping.

Weighill said those increasing numbers show a substantial strain on services that are available, and the need for more long-term, stable shelter for people suffering from addiction. 

"When you look at the numbers of people who are using the services, the police, the brief detox or The Lighthouse, they've almost quadrupled over the past four or five years," he said. "There are a lot of people in need in Saskatoon and we just haven't got the capacity to deal with it."

The situation has been compounded after the province changed funding for The Lighthouse last year. As a result, the program's daytime emergency shelter service was cut, limiting its operating hours to 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. CST.

However, the police report stated that The Lighthouse's role began to decline even before then, due to a number of people deemed ineligible for stabilization beds at the shelter for behavioural issues.

As well, the report said the city's Brief Detox Unit is often overwhelmed and "has been too full, too early in the day to allow the Saskatoon Police Service to use the facility" as an alternative for police cells.

Weighill said the policy is not directed at people who've only had a few drinks, but is aimed at those making the streets feel unsafe. 

Saskatoon's Board of Police Commissioners will be discussing the report Wednesday afternoon.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/saskatoon-police-zero-tolerance-1.4129496

Intoxication Arrests Up

From Sasknow.ca, May 24, 2017

Intoxication arrests were up in Saskatoon in 2016 compared to the year before and compared to a downward trend from 2012.

That is from the Action Accord Statistical Review presented to the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners on Wednesday.

The goal has been to keep intoxicated people out of jail cells and that's where The Lighthouse Stabilization Centre and the Brief Detoxification Unit come in.

The Community Support Program which deals with issues right on the streets has also reduced the frequency of arrests for intoxication.

The Stabilization Centre led to fewer non-criminals in jail cells but then 2 mitigating factors led to less use.

First, a number of people who had used the services before could no longer do so because of prior behaviours and second, there were funding issues which meant a reduction of hours the Centre is available.

The Brief Detoxification Unit is challenged with too much demand for its services, so that means having to go back to putting people in jail for public intoxication.

http://www.sasknow.ca/local-news/more-intoxicated-people-ending-up-in-jail-cells

Detention of intoxicated people in Saskatoon police cells rises

From Saskatoon StarPhoenix, May 24, 2017

BY THE NUMBERS:

The number of intoxicated people held in Saskatoon police cells in each of the last five years:
2016: 1,814
2015: 1,578
2014: 1,752
2013: 1,879
2012: 2,019

The number of Saskatoon police referrals to The Lighthouse stabilization unit, which opened in 2013:
2016: 239
2015: 325
2014: 404
2013: 192
2012: 0

The number of intoxicated suspects detained in Saskatoon police cells jumped in 2016 as police referrals to The Lighthouse stabilization unit fell.

Statistics presented at Wednesday’s board of police commissioners meeting suggest a connection between the detention of intoxicated people in police cells and the decline in those admitted to The Lighthouse.

The number of intoxicated people held in Saskatoon police jail cells rose to 1,814 last year, the highest since 2013, when The Lighthouse stabilization unit first opened.

“As we’ve seen, there’s been progress made, but challenges remain,” Mayor Charlie Clark said.

The provincial government changed its formula for funding eligibility in late 2015, which resulted in The Lighthouse closing the stabilization unit during daylight hours in February 2016. That appears to have resulted in fewer police referrals to the unit: that number fell to 239 in 2016, the lowest in three years after a peak of 404 referrals in 2014.

Police referrals to the Saskatoon Health Region’s brief detoxification unit also dropped to their lowest point in three years, to 411, down from 761 in 2014.

“The brief detoxification unit, with its access to addictions treatment services, is a highly desirable alternative to holding intoxicated persons in a police service cell when possible to do so,” notes a report presented at Wednesday’s meeting.

However, the report adds, the detox unit is “too full, too early in the day” for police to use it as an alternative to police cells as often as they would like. Police see The Lighthouse stabilization unit and the brief detox unit as “preferred” destinations where addicted people can get the help they need as opposed to a police holding cell.

The community support officers program, which was launched in 2012 and often deals with intoxicated people on the street, continued to experience a steady rise in individuals served. That number rose to 2,382 in 2016 from 1,246 in 2013, its first full year of operation, the report says.

Clark said he intends to meet with the provincial ministers of justice and social services to discuss the findings in the report.

“Fortunately, they’ve shown some interest in a dialogue,” he said.

The provincial Ministry of Social Services introduced stricter rules in November 2015 that limited who was eligible for funding for The Lighthouse stabilization unit.

The Lighthouse discontinued operation of its daytime stabilization unit in February 2016 and started turning away clients in September. 

http://thestarphoenix.com/news/local-news/detention-of-intoxicated-people-in-saskatoon-police-cells-rises

Action Accord Statistical Review For 2016

As the Action Accord has done since its inception, it is presenting statistical data and tracking of key annual indicators about how the various agencies are dealing with incidents of public intoxication. The purpose for this statistically based update report is to provide data with which Action Accord partners, as well as other organizations, can make decisions and take action as required.

One of the Action Accord’s core goals is to encourage the expansion of stabilization services and facilities for people who are detained for intoxication but have not committed a crime. Greater availability of stabilization services means that people have increased access to the resources and referrals that are needed to assist them in moving along the path to recovery.

The five Action Accord partners – Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners, Saskatoon Tribal Council, Saskatoon Police Service (SPS), Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and Saskatoon Health Region – have been part of the Action Accord since its beginning and remain partners today.

The key changes over the five year time frame covered in this report include the launch of the Community Support Program (CSP) Officers in the city centre in 2012 and the opening of The Lighthouse Stabilization Centre in 2013, which has since been accompanied by a number of service expansions as well as some funding curtailments.

1.     Overall Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) Intoxication Arrests:

After a steady decline in the number of Saskatoon Police Service intoxication arrests where intoxicated persons were held in SPS police service cells, the frequency moved back up during 2016. The priority of SPS Officers is to determine if the person detained can be placed in the care of capable and responsible persons such as family, or by accessing The Lighthouse Stabilization Centre or Brief Detoxification Unit (BDU). These non-police-cell options are used whenever circumstances allow and when the preferred venues are available.

2. SPS Referrals to The Lighthouse: 

After a steady decline in the number of Saskatoon Police Service intoxication arrests where intoxicated persons were held in SPS police service cells, the frequency moved back up during 2016. The priority of SPS Officers is to determine if the person detained can be placed in the care of capable and responsible persons such as family, or by accessing The Lighthouse Stabilization Centre or Brief Detoxification Unit (BDU). These non-police-cell options are used whenever circumstances allow and when the preferred venues are available.

3. SPS Referrals to the Brief Detoxification Unit (BDU):

The Brief Detoxification Unit, with its access to addictions treatment services, is a highly desirable alternative to holding intoxicated persons in a police service cell when possible to do so. The demand for those services, however, has meant that the BDU has been “too full, too early in the day” to allow the Saskatoon Police Service to use the facility as an alternative to police service cells as often as they would like. Although access to the BDU improved for the Police Service when The Lighthouse came on stream in 2013, its availability for SPS referrals began to decline to previous levels during 2015 and 2016.

4. Total Number of Intoxication Arrests Plus Referrals to Lighthouse / BDU:

As above, after reaching a peak in 2015, the total number of intoxication arrests and referrals by SPS dropped off significantly in 2015 and 2016. This improvement may be a reflection of increased availability of self-check-in capacity through either BDU or The Lighthouse as well as the introduction of the Community Support Program. 

5. Intoxication Arrests and Referrals by Venue: 

As a summary of the first four charts, the number of people housed in “more preferable locations”, namely BDU and The Lighthouse, increased up to 2014 and then formed a smaller portion of the “venues in which housed” in 2015 and 2016. From 2013 on, however, it should be noted that the Community Support Program had been introduced into the system in an effort to deal with “street issues right on the streets” in a more proactive manner, thereby reducing the frequency of arrests for intoxication.

6. Community Support Program (CSP):

A relevant indicator of “activity on the streets”, particularly in the city centre, is the data gathered by the Community Support Program. Launched in 2012, this initiative is funded by the Downtown, Broadway and Riversdale Business Improvement Districts. Community Support Officers assist with a range of calls including addictions, intoxications and disturbances. The intent of the program is to deal with these issues in a proactive manner, right “on the street”, by linking people in need of assistance with the required resources. It should be noted that not all CSP activity is intoxication-related but that does form a substantial portion of CSP Officers’ work. 

7. Intoxication and Street Activity:

Intoxication on the streets was addressed primarily by Police Service arrests and SPS cell detention in 2012. By 2016, SPS, The Lighthouse, BDU and CSP Officers were part of the equation. 

8. Lighthouse Stabilization Centre:

 While most of the data presented focuses on the interaction between SPS and support facilities, the total intake, including self-check-in at The Lighthouse Stabilization Centre, is relevant to an accurate view of the system. SPS referrals to The Lighthouse comprise a small portion of the Lighthouse’s total intake with the majority being those who access Lighthouse services on their own. 

9. Total Activity:

The combined activity – that includes SPS detentions for intoxication, referrals to The Lighthouse Stabilization Centre and to the BDU, the self-check-in statistics at The Lighthouse and BDU, as well as the number of individuals served through CSP activity – does convey an unmistakable trend line regarding the increasing demand for these services in Saskatoon. 

10.     Action Accord “Report Card”:

To return to the central purpose of the Action Accord, the five partner consortium was established to work for greater availability of stabilization services so that those intoxicated in public have increased access to the resources and referrals that are needed to assist them in moving along the path to recovery. 

Screen Shot 2017-03-21 at 11.34.46 AM.png

In 2012, the primary resources available for dealing with cases of public intoxication were Saskatoon Police Service cells plus the CSP program, launched part way through that year, and limited availability of space at the BDU. The introduction of the Community Support Program Officers in 2012 and the Lighthouse Stabilization Centre in 2013 has meant that, from 2013 to 2016, despite the significant run- up in “activity within the system”, the majority of people in need of this assistance are receiving it from the agencies best equipped to access resources and referrals. 

The ongoing work of the Action Accord is supported by the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners in order to ensure the delivery of co-ordinated stabilization services. 

You can download a PDF version of the report here. 

Issues for Discussion: Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners and the Caucus Committee on Reduction of Crime

The representatives of the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners, along with representatives of the Saskatoon Police Service are pleased to meet with members of the Caucus Committee on Reduction of Crime and to put forward the following messages:

  1. In Saskatoon, the level of strategic co-operation between groups dealing with crime related issues has improved immeasurably over the past decade.
  2. The provincial government has a vital role to play in these local initiatives.
  3. The money to deal with crime is going to be spent. Let’s focus on the front end of the process.

 

1. In Saskatoon, the level of strategic co-operation between groups dealing with crime related issues has improved immeasurably over the past decade.

There are numerous examples in Saskatoon where strategic and co-operative effort between often diverse groups is making a real and tangible difference.

As the first example, the Action Accord was launched in 2010 by the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners, Saskatoon Tribal Council, Saskatoon Health Region, Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and Saskatoon Police Service. All five founders remain partners today. The mandate of the Action Accord has been deliberately narrow, focusing on the expansion of stabilization facilities and services as well as the establishment of an integrated wellness centre in Saskatoon. Significant progress has been achieved in executing on this mandate because the Action Accord acts and speaks as a co-ordinated group.

Similarly, the City Centre Street Issues Group was formed to deal with a relatively small number of people who continually create challenges to the public’s sense of community safety on city centre streets. The service providers who deal with these issues, day in and day out, asked the question “can we be more effective if we integrate our efforts?” Their answer was “yes, we can”. The Saskatoon Police Service Central Division, the Community Support Officers, the Lighthouse and the Brief Detox Unit now hold weekly updates to deal with new and arising street issues, they share (within the limits of privacy regulations) information on individuals with whom they interact, and have taken almost a dozen small, but very concrete, steps to better co-ordinate their efforts. And all of this has taken place in only nine months.

A third example is the community-wide strategy to deal with homelessness. The initiative was originally spearheaded by two groups, namely the Saskatoon Housing Initiatives Partnership and the United Way, but it actually enveloped at least a dozen other organizations. The result was a community plan, developed and adopted by a cross-section of groups that likely would have, at one point in history, taken steps individually, but today move in concert. As a result, the entire process is more effective.

A fourth example is the Saskatoon Cold Weather Strategy where local groups made the commitment that below certain temperatures, rules about accommodation could be bent in the interests of ensuring no one was without shelter in those circumstances. The cost of establishing this system was virtually zero.

In short, there are processes that have already started. The province doesn’t have to invent one. It just needs to be sure it participates fully.

2. The provincial government has a vital role to play in these local initiatives.

Provincial agencies have unique and valuable roles to play with these existing initiatives. 

By way of example, after the City Centre Street Issues Group had put a number of steps in place, it became apparent that the missing link was access to Saskatchewan Social Services’ resources on a timely basis. When a police officer or Community Support Officer (CSO) was dealing with someone on the street that needed the assistance of Social Services, that officer or CSO had to either call a toll-free line or take a number and wait in line at the Social Services office. The solution was for the Officer or CSO to have immediate access to a designated person at Social Services. This allowed the process of assistance to the client to be expedited and it greatly reduced the amount of time the Officer or CSO was engaged with that case. Although this process improvement took longer than it really should have, it does provide an example of the role of the province in developing solutions that revolve around criminal or quasi-criminal activity.

There are numerous other examples that could be offered where the Province and its agencies provide certain types of services that are a key component in a local strategy. Strong encouragement of provincial resources to a) engage with these local groups to determine what role they could play, and then b) provide these unique resources on a very timely basis. To cite the above example, the addition of a relatively small amount of time from Social Services increased the effectiveness of the five local groups who had already created significant process improvement.

The Province of Saskatchewan can make a difference. And there is room for some improvement, as above, in engaging and then providing the needed resources. 

3. The money to deal with crime is going to be spent. Let’s focus on the front end of the process.

The financial pressures on the provincial government are well understood. But that being said, when dealing with crime and related activity, the money is going to be spent, one way or another. In the absence of sufficient provincial investment in proactive and preventative initiatives, the costs will invariably be the same or more. Many of the costs we are describing will be incurred in the health system and the justice system – and, in the absence of proactive measures, they will typically be in the “highest cost centres” areas such as emergency wards or jails.

The initiatives used as examples in this briefing note have one thing in common – they all focus on dealing with issues before they are elevated or reach acute status.  

Summary:

The Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners urges a provincial government focus on a) sufficient funding of programs that are inherently preventative in nature, and b) a higher level of focus on involvement and contribution to local initiatives. The provincial investment done in this manner is the most efficient route because it is part of a team effort, which in many instances, is already well underway. 

Download a PDF version here.

In Saskatoon, support is building for safe a injection site

From the the Saskatoon StarPhoenix on December 14, 2016. 

Saskatoon’s newly elected mayor says he’s “open to having the conversation” about establishing a safe injection site in the city. “The stories that are coming form the community and the streets right now are making it very clear that the status quo is not working,” Mayor Charlie Clark said, a day after the federal government announced […]

Find the full story here: http://thestarphoenix.com/storyline/in-saskatoon-support-is-building-for-safe-a-injection-site

Lighthouse Partnership Pilot Project

The Lighthouse Partnership Pilot Project report, completed in June, reviewed the results of investments the health region made during its 14-day challenge to fix patient flow problems in February 2015. “Looking at the results, we were pretty pleased with the outcomes that we had,” mental health and addictions director Tracy Muggli said in an interview.

Read the full report here (PDF).

 

Action Accord Focuses Attention on City Centre Street Issues

Dealing with activity on the streets in Saskatoon’s city centre has been a focal point of an initiative launched by the Action Accord in the summer of 2016 in response to the question “Can we do a better job of co-ordinating our efforts to address the issues we are seeing on the city centre streets?” 

Recognizing that a relatively small group of people are commonly at the centre of “issues on the streets that are intertwined with public intoxication”, a group of front-line service providers decided it was time to address the issue in a more co-ordinated and focused manner.

As Saskatoon grows, so do the related city centre street activity issues. In early summer, the Community Support Program Officers (CSO’s), Saskatoon Police Service and The Lighthouse, in conjunction with the three Business Improvement Districts in Downtown, Riversdale and Broadway decided it was time for specific and focused action.

Three steps have been undertaken since then:

  • Improved communication among the front line groups was the initial step, and already the benefits are apparent. Calls from Community Support Program Officers are now tightly linked in to the Police Service GPS system, speeding up the call process and providing greater safety for the CSO’s.

  • Second, increased interaction and communication about specific street issues between the CSO’s and all members of the Central Division of the Saskatoon Police Service has improved the knowledge base of best practices in dealing with those who are intoxicated in public.

  • The third step has been to further co-ordinate efforts through heightened information sharing between the service providers on the street, namely the CSO’s and Saskatoon Police Service, and Saskatoon’s stabilization services, including The Lighthouse.

    According to Lesley Prefontaine, Supervisor of the Community Support Program, “The experience of service providers is that there is typically a ‘window of opportunity’ to help people who chronically experience intoxication and addictions in public in the city centre. To succeed at that requires enhanced information exchange and improved co-ordination among the service provider groups. We have made great strides with that in the course of the last few months.”

    Saskatoon Police Service Staff Sergeant Darren Pringle agrees. “Given that we are often dealing with many of the same people, day in and day out, with regard to public addiction and intoxication, this ‘strategic interaction’ and the steps we have taken toward improved information exchange among the service providers mean we are better positioned for success in helping people move off the streets and toward recovery”.

    The service providers and city centre representatives continue to discuss additional concrete steps by which to address an issue that is increasing at least as quickly as the city is growing. The Action Accord will report, on behalf of the groups addressing city centre issues, as additional steps are taken.

    Contacts:
    Lesley Prefontaine, Supervisor, Community Support Program: (306) 491-9420 S/Sgt. Darren Pringle, Central Division, Saskatoon Police Service: (306) 975-2382 Dwight Percy, Consultant to the Saskatoon Action Accord: (306) 222-1361

Download a PDF version here. 

Summary of “Stabilization Issues” in Saskatoon

The Saskatoon Action Accord has, for the past four years, measured the impact of initiatives that were designed to provide enhanced care for people in detention because of intoxication. This annual "report card" and resulting "call for action" has been communicated to key senior government leaders including members of the provincial and federal Cabinets, Saskatoon MLA's and MP's, and senior administrators in relevant provincial and federal government departments. 

The key messages that accompanied the statistical analysis were:

  • The gains that have been achieved over the four years are the result of concentrated and co-operative effort on the part of a number of Saskatoon agencies.
     
  • Even this degree of effort has been outpaced by doubling of use of these stabilization facilities in just three years.
     
  • It is highly doubtful that small or merely incremental increases in resources will address the issue, given the rapid (28% per annum compounded) escalation in use.

The Action Accord remains committed to reporting back on progress and results to its partners and constituent base.

Find the report here. 

Saskatoon police to have paramedics in detention cells 24/7

(Source: CBC News, March 17, 2016)

Saskatoon police will soon have paramedics in city detention cells around the clock.

The move to expand paramedic hours beyond 12 hours a day was approved by the board of police commissioners Thursday. 

In future, there will be an emergency medical technician available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

It's believed the change could happen in early June.

Prisoners have sometimes ingested unknown substances

Saskatoon police Chief Clive Weighill said the medical condition of prisoners being brought into cells is sometimes an unknown. 

"We don't know what people have ingested before they come into our cell block," Weighill said. 

"A lot of the arrests that we have are for public intoxication. We're dealing lots of times with people with mental health and addiction issues, so we really don't know what we've got on our hands."

The decision comes two weeks after a man died while in police custody. 

"Tragically on Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, there was an in custody death in the SPS detention centre," Deputy Chief Bernie Pannell wrote to the board.

"The unfortunate incident occurred during the 12-hour period when there was no EMT  [emergency medical technician] on duty."

Medical specialist can recommend hospital for prisoners

The police service reached a deal with the Saskatoon health region five years ago to help pay for a medical specialist to monitor people in detention. They watch the prisoners and evaluate their responses to medical questions and, when warranted, can recommend the person be moved a hospital.

The health region gives police $150,000 a year to that end. Police contract MD Ambulance to provide the paramedic, at a cost of $245,000 a year. This means the service is already paying $95,000 a year out of its operating budget.

When the numbers shake out, Pannell wrote that this will cost the department another $163,000. 

"So it's not just one primary care paramedic that we're hiring." Weighill said. "We have to cover all those hours, so that's why it's so costly." 

Remand, youth addiction centre still needed, chief says

While the decision to expand paramedic service in detention cells is necessary, it also draws attention to the need for a remand centre and a youth addiction centre, Weighill said.

A lot of people in police detention cells are "there for health reasons, not criminal reasons," he said.

"For us to be housing people that have mental health and addiction issues ... this isn't the proper place for them," Weighill said.

"They should be housed in a place with dignity, [that] has better stabilization, that can give them the proper care. Not a police detention area."

 

Lighthouse cuts daytime programming after funding loss

(Source: CBC News, February 15, 2016)

Many of Saskatoon's most vulnerable citizens will not have a place to go during the daytime hours after the Lighthouse Supported Living shelter had to cancel programming. Last week, the Lighthouse cancelled its daytime programming for the stabilization unit, which is specifically for people under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

"It's really concerning for people because this is a safe place they can go during the day especially if they are not feeling well or if they are sick. We have a nurse here who can check on them as well as a paramedic to make sure that they are doing all right," Lighthouse communications director DeeAnn Mercier said.

The program cuts come after the provincial social services ministry applied more strict guidelines determining who is considered homeless. ercier explained that the majority of people who use emergency shelters in the province have to pay to stay. For some people that means taking money from their pension or income, but for a majority that means asking social services for the funding to stay in the shelter. If approved, Mercier said social services will send a form to the Lighthouse with funding to follow.

"But since about November 1st, they've been turning down 50 per cent of the requests. That doesn't mean the people stop coming, it just means that the funding has stopped following them unfortunately," Mercier said."So, we've had to make some tough decisions. Do we keep serving everybody? Do we only serve the people that fit that narrow definition of homelessness according to social services?"

The Lighthouse was operating at such a loss that they had to stop the daytime programming for the stabilization unit, Mercier said. The once 24-hour dormitory is now open from 4 p.m. CST to 8 a.m. CST. Mercier said it's impacting the "most chronically homeless, marginalized individuals in our community." The Lighthouse has been in talks with the province and recently received $150,000, which Mercier said helped them make up for the shortfall between November and January, but it isn't sustainable."We are actually looking for a policy change here so that hopefully people aren't funded through income assistance to stay here, but that the Lighthouse is core funded," she said. "So that the Lighthouse can provide that safety net 365 days a year whether…. every bed  is full or whether there is only 10 people here. We need to have the same amount of staff to ensure safety and support for individuals who come in seeking a safe place to stay."

Mental health partnership with Saskatoon police saves lives, money

From CBC News Saskatoon - January 28, 2016:

The Saskatoon Health Region is celebrating a program that pairs police with mental health professionals.

Since the Police and Crisis Team (PACT) program was launched in 2014, dozens of people have been kept out of the court system.

"PACT is a great example of how the police, health, and a community based organization like Saskatoon Crisis Intervention Service can work together to create positive outcomes for persons in a mental health crisis," said police inspector Mitch Yuzdepski in a press release. "It's about responding to crises in real-time."

The PACT program pairs a police officer with specialized training with a mental health trained worker from Saskatoon Crisis Intervention Service. The team tries to reduce arrests of people with mental illness and decrease the amount of emergency department visits.

So far, everyone involved is calling the program a success.

By the numbers

Between Nov. 1, 2014 and Oct. 31, 2015, PACT responded to 875 calls. As a result of their work:

·         97 people did not need to go to the emergency department

·         192 people requested help with suicide risk

·         875 calls that would have gone to police were handled by the PACT team

·         $198,898 savings toward the Saskatoon Health Region

Lighthouse Stabilization and Wellness Center Officially Opens in Saskatoon

An innovative wellness center at The Lighthouse Supported Living (Lighthouse) officially opened today in Saskatoon.  The shelter will provide an alternative for manageably intoxicated individuals who are unable to access other shelter services.

Part of the funding is also being used to renovate 59 existing units in the Dubé Lighthouse that provides housing for close to 70 individuals.   The Lighthouse Supported Living Inc. operates the Dubé Lighthouse facility.

The total cost of this project is $4 million.  Funding of $1.5 million from the government was provided by the Ministry of Health ($1 million), the Ministry of Justice ($250,000), and the Ministry of Social Services through the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation ($250,000).  The City of Saskatoon contributed $126,000 toward the project and additional funding was provided through the Homelessness Partnering Strategy and other fundraising.

“Our government is proud to work with Lighthouse to help vulnerable citizens in this community have improved access to a safe place to live with supports in place if required,” Social Services Minister and Minister responsible for Saskatchewan Housing Corporation Donna Harpauer said.  “This aligns with a number of priorities outlined in our Provincial Housing Strategy, which includes supporting individuals and families in greatest housing need.  These two initiatives are examples of that vision in action.”

“We are pleased to see the completion of the Lighthouse Stabilization and Wellness Centre project in Saskatoon,” Health Minister Dustin Duncan said.  “We are proud to support our community partners like Lighthouse, who are reaching out into communities to help people improve and maintain their health and wellbeing.   This project also supports the recommendations in the Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan, specifically ensuring that individuals with addictions issues have access to timely and appropriate care.”

“Our ministry is proud to partner in upgrading this valuable community facility,” Corrections and Policing Minister Christine Tell said.  “We know how important it is that places like the Dubé Lighthouse exist to provide shelter and housing for vulnerable individuals who require extra support.”

“We are grateful to the many community members who came together to volunteer and donate toward the ‘Up’ Capital Campaign, Les and Irene Dubé who led with an amazing gift of $1 million, and the Provincial Government for seeing the value in this project,” Lighthouse Executive Director Don Windels said.  “We are thankful the expanded Stabilization Unit will be operational before this winter so we can continue to provide emergency shelter to those in need in our community.”

The project features a stabilization shelter with approximately 38 beds for individuals who are manageably intoxicated.   The second floor provides programming and office space, and the third floor features a wellness center with exercise facilities and atrium.

Since November 2007, 167 affordable rental units have been completed by the province for those considered ‘hard to house’ and facing multiple challenges such as disabilities and addictions in Saskatoon.  Including the Lighthouse, an additional 40 units are currently under construction.

The Lighthouse provides housing for approximately 230 individuals on any given day.   It provides 126 permanent housing units and about 94 emergency shelter spaces for vulnerable individuals, including the working poor, people with physical or intellectual disabilities, and people with addictions.