Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

GLEAMING NEW PREMISES – Ian McKenzie, the Salvation Army’s executive director, is seen in one of the downtown centre’s living rooms at the time of the building’s opening in October 2017. The centre is contractually obliged to provide day programming to its clients.

‘We need to make it work’: Hanson on shelter

Concerns over services or lack of services being delivered at the new Salvation Army centre on Fourth Avenue were raised in the legislature Tuesday.

By Chuck Tobin on October 10, 2018

Concerns over services or lack of services being delivered at the new Salvation Army centre on Fourth Avenue were raised in the legislature Tuesday.

During question period, NDP Leader Liz Hanson told the legislature it appears there is no day programming.

That is required according to the contract between the Salvation Army’s Centre of Hope and the Department of Health and Social Services.

It appears clients using the Centre of Hope are not being allowed to stay inside between meals because daily drop-in programming is not being provided, Hanson said.

“Some people want to be engaged, but individuals should have a choice on whether they want to leave the building for the day or to participate in meaningful activities or to access other services,” Hanson told the house. “The only choice now is to leave the building.”

As a result, said Hanson, neighbours and businesses are seeing more conflicts and social problems.

Health Minister Pauline Frost said concerns exactly as the NDP leader described have been brought to her attention. Officials with her department are working to resolve them, the minister said.

The department, Frost said, seconded a senior department official to work directly with the Salvation Army for six months to address the matter.

“I’m not shying away from that, nor is this government,” Frost told the legislature of the concerns being raised.

“We are working with our partners and, if for some reason they are not delivering, we will ensure that they are held up to the highest standard possible, and that’s to deliver the services to the clients the building was built for.”

The Centre of Hope, built and paid for by the Yukon government, has been open for a year now.

Under the 31-month service contract inked in September 2017, the government provides the Salvation Army with $100,000 a month in funding – or $3.1 million to March 31, 2020.

In return, the Army is to manage and make available 20 transitional housing units that clients can use for up to a year.

It’s to provide 25 emergency shelter beds for individuals to stay at the shelter for no more than 30 days.

The kitchen is to serve three meals a day for residents and those just walking in and taking advantage of the meal service.

The contract also says the Salvation Army is to provide daily drop-in programming between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. with no fewer than two staff members available.

The contract also stipulates the government can seek reimbursement of money paid for services not provided.

The government has not attempted to recover any money to this point, cabinet spokeswoman Janine Workman said Tuesday.

Pat Living, a Department of Health spokeswoman, said in an email Tuesday the department is continuing to work with the Salvation Army and is in continuous contact to discuss the delivery of services.

“It is important to note that we are coming up to the one-year anniversary of the Centre of Hope’s opening,” says Living’s email.

“This is a large and complex project with lots of programming components to it and we wanted to give the Salvation Army time to settle into the new home and new programming and operations.

“We have always viewed the one-year mark as a period of assessment and a check in on project operations; staff are also having direct discussions with the Salvation Army about the past year of operations.”

Ian McKenzie, the Army’s executive director, declined an interview with the Star this morning. He provided a written statement:

“We are currently in conversation with Social Services, working through a one-year review of our operations, and talking with them directly about any concerns they have.

“It is our hope that we can work together with the Yukon Government in order to deliver shelter services to our most vulnerable citizens.”

In an interview, Hanson suggested the government needs to be forthright with the Salvation Army about what it wants and how to make it happen.

Yukoners have put $15 million to $20 million into the capital cost of the building, she said.

The former Yukon Party government put all the eggs in one basket when it decided to build the Centre of Hope and turn the title over to the Salvation Army, Hanson suggested.

As result, she said, it’s the only organization providing the type of services it’s supposed to provide.

“We need to make it work, and the Yukon government needs to find a way, whatever the levers are, to make it work,” said Hanson.

The building is in her Whitehorse Centre riding.

Comments (21)

Up 1 Down 0

Doug Ryder on Oct 16, 2018 at 7:03 pm

@ north of 60 - They already have lots of detox camps in the bush - They are called mining camps - 2 weeks party - 2 weeks sober...

Up 6 Down 1

north_of_60 on Oct 16, 2018 at 4:00 pm

Build a detox camp in the bush North of Faro, send all the drunks and addicts there to dry out. All the social workers can live in Faro; there's plenty of housing available. That gets the drunks and addicts off the streets in Whitehorse, and SA then has a big new Thrift Store building.
Problem solved.

Up 1 Down 6

woodcutter on Oct 16, 2018 at 3:29 pm

wow reading the comments makes me see that many of the neo-conservative views fit into a self serving stereo type of addiction, mental health and survivors of trauma. The fact is, the folks you are all talking about, in an abusive and callous way are the product of our community and are a direct reflection of how this community of Whitehorse has been in the past and how it currently is.

What we are seeing is people who are struggling and instead of revictimizing them, while you all sit in your new truck with 60 payments and go to your dead end job that has you trapped and the banker with his $1000 suit telling you that you better keep working that hamster wheel you're on, or you too could be checking yourself into the SA shelter, you should be thanking your lucky stars and realize that no matter how hard you all as tax payers have it, there is many who are in worse condition then any of you self riotous bores.

To now make all this noise shows how shallow you all are, and how cowardly you are to attack those much less fortunate. Shame on you for attacking the good works the SA has done in the past and currently, at least they are trying, you all are just adding fuel to the fire of hate.

Up 2 Down 0

Doug Ryder on Oct 15, 2018 at 10:12 pm

In conversation with Ilove Parks - The difficulty is not a matter of will power per se but rather the self-motivation to understand and accept that there is the possibility of a better life. For one to be successful in the change process one must be able to meet the clients where they are at and help that person to understand that choice is possible, that they have control over who they are.

The idea of addiction as illness diminishes the potency of choice.

There are number of instances in which forcing people into programming is counterproductive and harmful. Programming must also be delivered with regard to the peculiarities of the individual in the program, tailorism. Then there are concerns with individual responsiveness, intellectual capacity etc.

Unfortunately there are a lot of ignorant persons who believe that mandating treatment is helpful. There is also a need for qualification and skill. You have to have an understanding of human behaviour, group work, relational dynamics etc. Then there are the assessments. This is no easy task.

On the issue of programming - It depends.

Up 2 Down 1

Max Mack on Oct 15, 2018 at 4:47 pm

Politicians grandstanding and doing their best to make the sitting and former government look bad. Typical.
Whether SA is providing "day programming" or not, I do not know. But, that isn't really the point, is it? Hanson is essentially saying that SA clients should be able to come and go at all hours of the day or night.

Hanson is totally out-of-line if that's what she's pushing for. SA cannot possibly accommodate the destruction and chaos of the drunks and meth/heroin addicts coming and going anytime they wish: it is not only impractical and expensive, but potentially very dangerous for staff and other clients.

Up 6 Down 7

Doug Ryder on Oct 14, 2018 at 8:30 pm

@ The_Truth_Hurts - It does not matter whether or not they want to attend programming or engage in other productive activities.
We have to be able to say that we tried, that we did our best to engage them to the best of their ability.

It does not matter whether the intervention is successful or not because as long as we have the structure the SA, the government, and the Courts can manufacture whatever stats portray the best narrative... The favourable one...

This is done in the therapeutic Courts all the time. We have a 67% success rate. When you review the outcomes you find very fluid definitions of success to make anything sound like a success.

Sure she re-assaulted again, relapsed several times and smoked marijuana daily but she now has her drivers license... That’s a positive... That’s success! Clap, clap, clap. Step forward and receive your mitigated sentence and your certificate of completion...

Now that marijuana will be legal this chronic inebriator will be even more successful... Therapeutic Courts and Wellness Courts will become Cannabis for Wellness Courts... Success!

What, you did nothing for your whole time in the Therapeutic Courts... Wait a minute, you wanted to, Right?!?! Uh, yes your honour I did! Success, that’s a success, want to, your partial mitigated sentence will be...

Marijuana is the 2nd leading intoxicant behind alcohol in impaired driving related offences. Now that we can test for it the likelihood that marijuana will top the list is almost assured... Another success!

The motto of the Cannabis for Wellness Court is: Sharing is Caring - No Bogarts!

Up 7 Down 4

Ilove Parks on Oct 14, 2018 at 7:36 pm

Doug Ryder
I disagree, addiction needs to be treated through programs for the majority of cases. I do not think the illness label is dogma. Sure it takes strength and hard work to break addictive self destructive behavior. It's not solely weak character which you imply is the root cause of addiction.

Up 12 Down 2

Stagger,Hit&Run on Oct 14, 2018 at 3:04 pm

Be careful drivers around the Centre of (No) Hope building - there are several inebriated folks walking straight out and onto the roads just hoping to be hit by a motorist doing 31 kph, and thus initiating a careless driving lawsuit for thousands of dollars compensation - it is the Centre of their only Hope.

Up 8 Down 3

A.Shame on Oct 14, 2018 at 2:37 pm

The SA has done some very good work in most jurisdictions outside of the Yukon. Unfortunately much like WCC, “programming” seems to be a foreign word. Why pray tell isn’t Justice, Health and the pawn brokers at SA working together to solve issues with the same clientele?

Up 23 Down 5

The_Truth_Hurts on Oct 14, 2018 at 11:39 am

Dragging yourself up and enrolling in something useful and semi-productive has always been too much to ask of those who can simply wallow in self-pity for supposed 'residential school legacy effects' and then cash their welfare checks through the liquor stores, and then fall over outside the Salvation Army. A Yukon Tradition if ever there was one .

Up 12 Down 5

Juniper Jackson on Oct 14, 2018 at 3:20 am

The people that frequent the new Sally Ann, are the same street people that lived in the old one.. uneducated, addicted to alcoholics, the group of the great unwashed.. they have no interest in being anything but what they are.. go there to eat, across the street to drink, beg enough between welfare payments to buy their liquor.. or wander around without it.. it's going to be very cold soon.. they have to have some place to be warm.... that lovely sitting space shown will work out just fine.. no one will leave.. maybe long enough to wander the streets..What does someone suggest? That we let them die on Second Ave? Throw them in jail for peeing and pooping behind the building? The very few public bathrooms are locked and will not let them in. Shoppers will not let me in!!! You can't force people into programming if they don't want to go, and you can't leave them outside in the winter.. so? Just do it.. give them a warm place to sit.. a toilet... a meal..if they fight.. call the police where they get..a warm place to sit, a toilet and a meal.

Up 10 Down 0

It's Become a Hub on Oct 13, 2018 at 5:38 pm

The building is staffed 24/7 but many people who work with these clients report that non-residents who drop in for a meal can't stay inside between meals. And with nothing to do, residents go for a walk to visit and drink with friends.
The centre is providing housing and seems it's staffed to do that. If the intention was also to provide programming and activities, why wasn't it staffed with competent service providers from the very start?

Internal politics and government politics of how this came to be are probably very complicated. I don't doubt for a moment that staff at the centre work very hard every day to provide what they can for very difficult clients. But from my basic citizen viewpoint it looks like programming wasn't addressed, .
If non-resident homeless have to leave between meals, the unintended result is creating a two-block environment where alcohol is easily available and a centralized drug-trade happens. I drive at 30 km ALL the time around there due to worries I'll kill an erratic intoxicated person.

Up 11 Down 6

Doug Ryder on Oct 13, 2018 at 1:39 pm

In response to Ilove Parks - It is not appropriate to view addiction through a medical model lens - Addiction is “always” a choice - It is not an “illness”.
To use language [illness] that obscures the reality that addiction is a choice is harmful and deprives the individual of responsibility for their life - This is both irresponsible and culturally inappropriate.

It is unfortunate that this myth has been foisted upon society and subsequently codified by the legal system.

Up 27 Down 6

Ilove Parks on Oct 12, 2018 at 12:52 pm

The SA and the clinical signs of drunken and drugged people makes Whitehorse a very unpleasant place.

Yes I understand the residential schools and intergenerational effects and that addiction is an illness. Let's treat the illness and hide the clinical signs of dysfunction by not tolerating public drinking and aggressive panhandling.

This city is the worst I have seen in comparison with 3 provinces and 3 US states I was revently in.
There is a problem so be aggressive to fix it.

Up 4 Down 26

CYNTHIA MITCHELL on Oct 12, 2018 at 12:08 am

I am somewhat upset with the comments of North of 60... Does North understand the politics of the center and how it came to be? ...Does he or she understand the thrift store and what they went through? .. maybe you and others should put on the shoes of the staff who work there esp. LIZ and and Kate.. they seem to have a lot to say without donning the shoes of the staff..by the way the building is open 24 ..7.. girls!!

Up 25 Down 3

Doug Ryder on Oct 11, 2018 at 11:00 pm

@ north of 60: Agreed. The last time I passed through Whitehorse on 4th Avenue the streets were littered with empties and drunken disturbers of the peace sloshing through gob-slick sidewalks on their way to their next adventure. Fresh loogies marking their trails to Third and Main, the Courthouse, the Chilcoot Inn, the Liquor Store and Big Bear Donair offsales and back.

I cannot imagine how sickening it must be for the people who live and work in it everyday - The streets a literal bio-hazard laden with infectious sputum. 😷

What about the daycare children often seen walking about with their daycare workers on their adventures - Count the loogies children... 1, 2 there’s some on your shoe... 3, 4 gonna step in some more... 5, 6 this social problem needs a fix... 7, 8 the air borne infection is gonna circulate... 9, 10 the politicians ain’t “listenen”.

Whitehorse - The city of gobbers and hobnobbers...

Up 32 Down 6

My Opinion on Oct 11, 2018 at 10:01 pm

Where are the First Nations and their Millions of Dollars. Why are we funding them and this as well. They say they are a Government and the represent their people. So REPRESENT.

Up 16 Down 4

My Opinion on Oct 11, 2018 at 9:59 pm

So who thinks that anyone in there wants programming, raise your hands. Yeah I thought so.

Up 21 Down 6

Anyone would have known better... on Oct 11, 2018 at 6:36 pm

... then to give that contract to SA of all people. The stories coming out of there are atrocious. They do not know how to treat people with dignity and respect. But also, it was never ever their business to have any clue how to administer programs or supported housing to the population forced to seek their "services". Why on earth would YG get into this tangled mess with them when there were far more appropriate and more affordable options?! There are organizations in town who specialize in serving people with these social issues, without antiquated religious views on the world, social issues, and human beings. It is a heart-breaking and colossal shame this was given to SA in the first place. An organization who knew what they were doing and who kept up to best practices would be low-barrier, have case management support and programming and have the skills to work with people to feel safe and comfortable indoors and work with them towards finding more permanent supports and housing. YG, stop wasting time and drop them and find a better fit. This will NEVER fit and was abundantly obvious before this decision was ever made.

Up 34 Down 5

Hugh Mungus on Oct 11, 2018 at 1:27 pm

@ north_of_60
The SA is a 'faith' based company that really is driven around acquiring real estate on the backs of taxpayers and donators.
The entire area around their new building is a festering hole of filth and neighbours are not amused to watch their property values plummet, watch the hourly stream of police and ambulance, watch the public intoxication, and urination, watch the fights and vandalism.
I wouldn't drop a wooden nickle in one of their Christmas kettles.

Up 42 Down 2

north_of_60 on Oct 10, 2018 at 4:41 pm

A lot of people stopped donating to the SA when they took $15 million from the taxpayers, built a flashy new building, then closed down the Thrift Store. They're no longer a credible organization serving the community.

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