Saskatoon Tribal Council chief says he won’t accept Lighthouse’s managed alcohol program

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The head of the Saskatoon Tribal Council said he would not accept the managed alcohol program offered by Lighthouse Supported Living Inc., after the province announced plans to move some of those services elsewhere.

“We’re trying to get people off drugs and alcohol – that’s the key – so I would turn that down,” STC chief Mark Arcand said in an interview with Saskatoon morning host Leisha Grebinski.

The alcohol management program provides people with supportive housing and a medically regulated dose of alcohol at set intervals throughout the day.

Gene Makowsky, Saskatchewan’s Minister of Social Services, said in an interview with CKOM radio host John Gormley on Thursday that emergency shelter services would be transferred to the STC Wellness Center from the lighthouse.

The move comes after recent revelations that the lighthouse chief was using shelter funds for personal loans.

Makowsky also said the independent living center and lighthouse stabilization unit – which received operating funding from the ministry – would move. The government has said the transition will take time and there is no fixed date.

A distinct side of housing operations will remain with the lighthouse, Makowsky said.

Alcohol program run “in limbo”

The alcohol management program at the Lighthouse was offered in partnership with the Saskatchewan Health Authority and the Saskatoon Crisis Intervention Service until recently when SCIS pulled out due to the leadership and staffing situation of the Light house.

SCIS executive director Rita Field said the programme, which has eight participants, is now “in limbo”.

The Government of Saskatchewan has announced its intention to relocate certain services currently offered at Lighthouse Supported Living in Saskatoon. (Dan Zakreski/CBC)

“There are, to my knowledge, no new admissions through the lighthouse. And we certainly can’t proceed until things are sorted out,” Field told CBC News on Monday.

The Lighthouse says it has requested written clarification from Makowsky about the services that will be affected.

“Once we are clear on which services will no longer be funded and on timelines for transitioning to other service providers, we will be in a better position to assess what other services The Lighthouse can continue to offer,” said the co-CEO Jerome Hepfner. wrote.

I don’t believe in watching people take drugs. I saw this through my mother and I believe it is not good for anyone.– Chief Mark Arcand, Saskatoon Tribal Council

“For now, we continue to help those in need in the community with the resources we have.”

Field says she hopes Arcand or other organizations are willing to discuss an alcohol management program because of its many benefits, including reducing the time a person spends in shelters, reducing from drinking alcohol without drinking (mouthwash, hand sanitizer, etc.), reducing risk of harm to violence on the streets and giving people a support network.

“People in the program know each other and they’re often friends and they have a better quality of life and it’s more content and they know where to get help,” Field said.

“Their health is stabilized and their substance use is kept to a minimum to really manage the addiction.”

Importance of harm reduction

Arcand, who has been sober for more than two decades, says he opposes the idea of ​​giving people alcohol or drugs to manage addiction and prefers approaches such as drug rehabilitation programs.

I don’t believe in watching people take drugs. I saw that through my mother and I don’t think it’s good for anyone,” he said. because of drug addiction and that’s just not a good thing. thing. So we have to take a proactive approach.”

Kayla DeMong, executive director of Saskatchewan’s only safe drinking site, Prairie Harm Reduction, says the abstinence-based lifestyle isn’t a realistic option for everyone, so it’s important to offer people the opportunity to use drugs or alcohol safely.

Kayla DeMong, executive director of Prairie Harm Reduction, says it’s important to give people the option to use drugs or alcohol safely. (Submitted by Kayla DeMong)

“There has to be some sort of bridging of the gap between this idea of ​​using and abstinence,” DeMong said in an interview.

“I think what we’re missing is the idea that there’s a transition between that and that people, even if they’re actively using, deserve support and should be supported.”

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