Tag Archives: DeeAnn Mercier

Closure of daytime Lighthouse programs ‘big setback for the city:’ Weighill

ANDREA HILL, SASKATOON STARPHOENIX
More from Andrea Hill, Saskatoon StarPhoenix

IMG_0904 A funding shortfall has forced Saskatoon’s Lighthouse Supported Living shelter to cancel its daytime program.

People who are homeless, intoxicated or otherwise need a safe place to stay can now only access the centre from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Lighthouse communications director DeeAnn Mercier said “it’s scary to contemplate” what the city’s most vulnerable people will do during the day, especially in current temperatures, and she fears the number of downtown disturbances will rise if people who need to sleep off a rough night have nowhere to go.

Mercier said funding challenges started in November, when the provincial social services ministry, one of the organization’s biggest backers, gave notice it will apply stricter qualifications in deciding who is eligible for funding.

Under its contract with the Lighthouse, the ministry gives the organization an emergency shelter per diem for people who use the shelter. Mercier said the organization was told in November that funding will only be available for people who meet the government’s definition of “homeless.”

IMG_0903However, there’s many reasons why people — even those with fixed addresses — seek shelter at the Lighthouse, she noted.

“It may be that their ex-partner is there, it may be that there’s 20 people there, it may be that they’re not allowed to stay there when they’re intoxicated, it may be that they don’t feel safe there. That, to us, fits the Lighthouse’s definition of homelessness,” Mercier said.

The provincial government’s direction was that people who, for example, are collecting pension cheques or have a source of income are expected to pay to stay at the Lighthouse, Mercier said.

That never happens, because most people showing up at the Lighthouse can’t afford anything, Mercier said. Instead of turning people away, the organization has housed and fed them, albeit with less funding. Mercier estimates that between 40 and 50 per cent of people arriving at the centre are now coming with no funding.

The practice has left the centre in a “very concerning” financial situation, forcing managers to make decisions about cuts. First on the chopping block was 24-hour programming, which started at the centre’s stabilization unit almost a year ago.

“This is a big setback for the city,” said police Chief Clive Weighill. “The Lighthouse is predominantly the main place for people to go who need assistance, and without this open during the daytime, it’s going to leave a big gap of service here in the city.”

A spokesperson for the social services ministry said the province is in the process of providing an additional $150,000 to the Lighthouse within its current contract to help it provide emergency shelter while the health, social services and corrections ministries examine a longer-term, sustainable funding model for its operations.

Mercier said the money will help deal with the shortfall from 2015 but is not enough to keep the centre open 24 hours.

“We’re really hesitant to continue daytime operations if we don’t have sustainable funding for it,” she said.

In an emailed statement, social services spokesman Andrew Dinsmore said eligibility for emergency shelter per diems is based on assessing people’s income and assets from all sources, and their needs.

If a person’s resources are insufficient to meet their daily living needs for basic items such as food, clothing, or shelter, they may be eligible,” he said.

His statement did not indicate how the criteria for an emergency shelter per diem changed in November.

Lighthouse Stabilization and Wellness Centre Officially Opens in Saskatoon

Released on November 20, 2015

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.

IMG_0163“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.”

IMG_0168“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.

IMG_0166Since 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.

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Saskatoon Health Region Partners With The Lighthouse And M.D. Ambulance To Improve Health Care In The Community

Saskatoon Health Region’s 14-Day Challenge, which ended yesterday, has resulted in a new six-month pilot project at the Lighthouse Supported Living in partnership with the Region and M.D. Ambulance. The Lighthouse is a community-based organization that provides emergency shelter, supported living and affordable housing to those in need in Saskatoon.

As part of the six-month pilot project, the Lighthouse will:​

  • Dedicate another eight beds to clients with mental health complex needs and expand support to clients 24 hours a day. The increase in beds from 9 to 17 will support people to transition to independent living.
  • Expand the Stabilization Unit to 24 hours. The unit currently provides emergency shelter to clients under the influence of drugs or alcohol from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. The increase in hours is expected to reduce substance misuse and mental health-related admissions to emergency departments, and improve access to addiction support.
  • IMG_9232Expand the Lighthouse Mobile Outreach service from six to 16 hours a day, improving access to services, reducing the use of ambulances and ensuring case managers can spend less time transporting clients and more time assisting them one-on-one. The Mobile Outreach service allows a team of two to provide transportation to homeless or struggling individuals to the Lighthouse or other support services.

Have a paramedic on site 12 hours a day, seven days a week. An embedded paramedic on the Lighthouse’s primary health team will be able to provide emergency assessment and triage, as well as general paramedicine, reducing the need for ambulance and acute care access.

  • Add a care aide, addictions counsellor and increased primary health nurse practitioner hours to the team to improve continuity of care, enhance referral and access to appropriate services and advance coordination of multiple health team members on site.

Overall, the expansion of services is meant to decrease emergency department visits and consults, ambulance and police calls, and inpatient admissions to acute care by ensuring the right care by the right provider at the right time in the right place. For more information on consults, click here​.

“Saskatoon Health Region is making investments at the Lighthouse that will have a significant impact on the quality of life for Lighthouse residents and those using their shelter services,” says Tracy Muggli, Director of Mental Health and Addictions Services, Saskatoon Health Region. “Improving the overall health status and outcomes of Lighthouse residents in an environment they are already accessing will improve the quality of life of some of the most vulnerable, high-needs and at-risk individuals in our community.”

The community paramedicine model is an important piece to ensure clients are provided the right care at the right time in their homes.

“M.D. Ambulance is pleased to have a paramedic embedded with the Lighthouse care team,” says Gerry Schriemer, Chief Operating Officer for M.D. Ambulance. “The paramedic will bring a skill set that will assist the decision-making process to ensure that clients receive the right care utilizing the right resources at the right facilities.”

The pilot project is a result of the Region’s ongoing planning sessions as part of the Lighthouse Integrated Health and Shelter Team.

“We are very thankful for the support of Saskatoon Health Region and M.D. Ambulance, allowing us to work together to help men and women achieve greater health, stability and independence,” says Don Windels, Executive Director of the Lighthouse Supported Living. “Through co-operation in our community we can address gaps in the system and help improve the lives of those in Saskatoon.”

Learn more about the services provided at the Lighthouse Supported Living: www.lighthousesaskatoon.org.

Learn more about the Region’s 14-Day Challenge: www.saskatoonhealthregion.ca/news.

Cameco Community Kitchen Video

Cameco Community Kitchen has now been open for one month. It provides meals to the wider community twice a week. This video was filmed on the Kitchen’s opening day and highlights the need for s supper program and life skills classes that it will provide.

Cameco and The Lighthouse partnered together to provide a new kitchen to feed some of Saskatoon’s most vulnerable citizens. The Cameco Community Kitchen will open on Monday and Friday evenings.

“This kitchen will help provide an evening meal to those who are experiencing homelessness or limited resources and hopefully introduce them to our services,” said Don Windels, executive director of the Lighthouse.

“By inviting people in for a warm meal we will be able to get to know them and offer supports, before housing is lost. In addition, the kitchen will be used to teach cooking classes and life skills to community members to increase their self-sufficiency and independence.”

We are seeking volunteers on Mondays and Fridays from 5:00pm to 7:00pm to help prepare and serve the meals. Please email volunteer@lighthousesaskatoon.org to help today.

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 3.02.58 PM

 

We also appreciate donations of food including soup ingredients like carrots, celery, potatoes, soup base, milk, chicken or beef meet, barley, sausage, pasta as well as monetary donations to ensure the continued services provided. You can donate at https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/the-lighthouse-supported-living-inc/.

Lighthouse opens new soup kitchen

 cameco

Fresh, free food for the city’s needy is now on the menu at a downtown shelter.

The Lighthouse has opened a new soup kitchen at its downtown headquarters. The shelter will now provide free meals to the public twice a week.

For people like Harry McLeod, the new community kitchen is welcome.

“It’s important for families who are struggling for food and shelter,” McLeod told reporters Monday at the kitchen’s grand opening.

McLeod spent years on the street and now lives at The Lighthouse. While the new kitchen is aimed at helping people who don’t already live at the assisted living facility, he said he looks forward to frequenting the new kitchen.

Aside from cooking free suppers twice a week, the newly renovated kitchen will also provide cooking classes for people who want learn to cook healthy meals on their own.

The Lighthouse’s DeeAnn Mercier said the new kitchen will be a valuable resource for people who struggle to make ends meet.

“When rents go up, a lot of people take money out of their food budget in order to pay their bills, so money becomes very tight. There is just not enough to go around,” Mercier said.deeann

Other popular soup kitchens in Saskatoon, like the one at the Friendship Inn on 20th Street, don’t serve supper, Mercier noted. That means people on the street still go hungry at night.

The shelter expects as many as 60 people to frequent the free meal service in the first few months. After the holidays, demand will like increase, Mercier predicted.

The kitchen will be fully staffed by volunteers and its shelves will be stocked with donated food. Mercier said she hopes the kitchen will bring in new people to The Lighthouse.

“They will come in, get to know us and we can talk to them, maybe before they lose their house,” she said.

Cameco provided the funding to renovate the kitchen and plans to help staff it with volunteers.