Saskatoon shelter to evict residents with 'complex needs', will focus on families

Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand answers questions from the media on zero tolerance for drug use at the Emergency Wellness Centre.  (Albert Couilard/CBC - image credit)
Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand answers questions from the media on zero tolerance for drug use at the Emergency Wellness Centre. (Albert Couilard/CBC - image credit)

Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand says drug use and rule-breaking are problems at the Emergency Wellness Centre (EWC) and now 30 people with "complex needs" will be evicted from the facility.

Complex needs is a term used to describe those who have serious drug addictions or mental health issues.

He says those with complex needs are "using drugs steady" on the EWC's property and it's becoming problematic.

"We have kids there, we have families there and it's really causing a disruption for the wellness part," said Arcand.

As of right now, the facility houses 106 people.

The Fairmont facility will have staff on site to offer health services, employment and training, life skills programming, and mental health and addiction support.
The Fairmont facility will have staff on site to offer health services, employment and training, life skills programming, and mental health and addiction support.

STC Chief Mark Arcand defined people with complex needs as those who have serious drug addictions and do not want to seek help. (Albert Couillard/CBC)

Arcand says residents have been warned that Oct. 1 is the deadline for when the centre's zero tolerance policy will take effect in regards to drug use and violence.

If drug users can't "kick their habit" then STC says it won't serve them and they'll be removed. The STC says Saskatoon police will help assist if people aren't compliant with leaving.

According to Arcand, the EWC doesn't have the funding to deal with people suffering from addictions.

He says the province and city need to come together and look for a new facility specifically for people with complex needs.

"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," said Arcand.

"We've got to find a different mechanism to support those individuals."

If there is a new facility created for people with complex needs, Arcand says it shouldn't be on the west side of the city.

Saskatoon Police Service Superintendent Darren Pringle says it's expected the changes will increase police workload.

"The challenge for us has always been where do people go, and if we've got more of these folks out in the community, safety [is] our primary concern," said Pringle.

"Safety for the community, safety for them, because we have a duty of care to everyone."

Pringle says police can help, but they are not the entire solution.