One of the the homeless men is believed to be heading to Victoria, where he says he plans to stay at a local shelter, but in a city already dealing with a homelessness crisis, that may not be an option.
The campers at Victoria’s tent city are offering two homeless men en route from Saskatchewan a place to stay when they arrive.
“It’s dry, it’s warm, we can throw down some cots for you, and you’ll be set,” said camper Joseph Reville.
The men, featured today on the front page of the Saskatoon StarPheonix, said a Saskatchewan government social worker bought them one-way bus passes to B.C. instead of providing funding to stay at a local shelter.
A provincial travel requisition obtained by the CBC shows the province paid for one $250 greyhound ticket to Vancouver — the other man is believed to be coming to Victoria.
Local politicians said it’s frustrating and upsetting any provincial government would pay to send two of its most vulnerable residents elsewhere.
“Locally we call that Greyhound therapy, we don’t condone it, we don’t support it, and we usually, when we find out this is happening, we let that other government know this is unacceptable,” said Charlayne Thornton-Joe, Victoria city councillor and member of the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness.
But this afternoon B.C. Premier Christy Clark said the province would help the two homeless men coming from Saskatchewan — she added wherever they are in Canada, we should be supporting them.
Saskatchewan’s Social Services Minister issued a statement saying the deputy minister is reviewing if case plans were in place for the men, and reminding front-line workers that clients should have a plan in place before they’re given bus tickets for destinations away.
The men are already on their way from North Battleford to B.C.
Both said they plan to stay in homeless shelters when they arrive but in Victoria that could be a problem.
“All the shelters are full, tent city still has 60 or 70 people there, there’s lots of people on the street, so it’s going to be a struggle for them,” said Don Evans, Executive Director of Our Place Society.
Evans says its an unusual and difficult situation, especially since Victoria is already dealing with a housing crisis.
“People are struggling on the streets, there’s a lot of them here, so to add more isn’t going to help the situation at all.”
But he says, no matter how or why these men have have ended up here, there are outreach workers ready to help make their transition from the streets of Saskatchewan to the streets of B.C., just a little easier.