The government of Saskatchewan announced on Tuesday the ‘Ministry of Social Services Pandemic Response’. This response is meant to help vulnerable provincial residents, along with the organizations that aid them, by leveraging existing resources within the system, adapting policies, and as well as allocating new resources.

Some of the measures the provided include funding to emergency shelters, modified service delivery models which will help out with capacity issues due to social distancing, as well as helping ease the burden on existing clients.

The government has also announced one-time additional funding of $171,000 to help meet the extra pressure being put on these emergency shelters. Moose Jaw’s Riverside Mission has been selected as one of the shelters to receive a portion of the funding. Others include YWCA Regina - My Aunt’s Place, YWCA Saskatoon, Salvation Army Saskatoon, Salvation Army Regina, and Soul’s Harbour Regina.

The Emergency Shelter Response will also provide a modified delivery model, based on the Cold Weather Strategy these shelters already use. When shelters are unable to provide for an individual or family in need, Social Services will step in and provide support with funds for emergency hotel stays, along with working to transition clients to permanent housing.

If a client in one of these shelters must self-isolate due to COVID-19 symptoms or exposure, the individual will be transferred to a safe accommodation, such as a hotel or housing unit. It was also announced that any youth in the Care and Custody Network, will not be transitioned to independence during this time either. Any youth that “ages out of care” during the pandemic will not be transitioned out of their current housing.

 

New Saskatchewan Housing Benefit.

Another announcement made on Tuesday by the provincial government includes the Saskatchewan Housing Benefit. Applications will begin being accepted on April 1. The federal-provincial program is aimed to help those in the greatest housing need.

In the release by the government, it states:

“Saskatchewan Housing Benefit (SHB) is a monthly benefit available to eligible households, including seniors, families, couples and singles. It will be available to Saskatchewan renters who:

  • rent from a community housing provider, such as a non-profit housing provider or co-operative;
  • pay more than 50 per cent of household income on rent and utilities;
  • have incomes and assets below the program limits; and
  • are not receiving another government benefit to help with their housing/shelter costs.

Clients will receive a benefit based on their household composition:

  • Eligible households that require one bedroom, such as single individuals or couples, will receive $150 per month.
  • Households that require two bedrooms will receive $200 per month.
  • Households that require three or more bedrooms will receive $250 per month.

Application forms and additional information will be available on the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation website or by calling toll-free 1-844-787-4177.

 

A few other announcements made by the government on Tuesday:

 

Child and Family Programs

The government also went on to announce that front line child protection workers will be able to access Personal Protective Equipment, safe work guidelines and training to protect themselves, children, and families they work with. Those who need to enter homes in order to work with child safety will be provided a series of screening questions to determine what level the potential risk is at.

All IA clients will continue to receive benefits, and on March 19, the ministry lessened reporting requirements across all of its programs.

 

Social Services Physical Distancing and Eased Reporting Measures

And finally, the government announced Social Service offices will remain open, with the first hour of each day being reserved for more vulnerable individuals, including those with health issues, disabilities, or a compromised immune system.

In-person contact will also be minimized for the safety of clients and staff. Clients are asked to not come into the offices unless it is an emergency.

The Client Service Call Centre has also brought in more staff to help support those in need. If you need more information, you can call 1-866-221-5200.

 

 

 

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