Two homeless men in the prairies were given one-way bus tickets to B.C. paid for by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Social Services, according to a report from the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.
The men, Jermemy Roy, 21, and Charles Neil Curly, 23, both requested the tickets from the government, and plan to live in homeless shelters upon arrival in Vancouver and Victoria. Jeremy Roy has never been outside the province and suffers from mental health issues.
Shayne Williams with Vancouver-based Lookout Emergency Aid Society says this is a humanitarian issue and the Saskatchewan government handled the situation poorly.
“It’s very concerning for us that they have folks shipped halfway across the country with no supports or no knowledge of what they’re getting into,” he tells Vancity Buzz.
“To have another province basically ship these fellows out puts a lot more burden on us and really puts these two gentlemen in question at risk.”
Despite the fact that the men requested the tickets, Williams says the move was unacceptable and transfers responsibility for the care of these men from one province to another.
“We don’t have the social housing or the sheltering system or the ability to take on other problems from other provinces.”
“As a group of service providers and under BC Housing guidance and with provincial direction, we’re really struggling just to help ones that are B.C. residents that have been here for years,” he says.
Beyond draining provincial services, the decision to ship the men from Saskatchewan to B.C. puts them in danger, according to Williams.
“You step off the bus and into Vancouver, that happens to be on Main Street and Terminal, a few blocks from the epicentre of the Downtown Eastside – if they have a predilection towards drugs or alcohol, anything can be available and the spiral starts.”
“To take country boys, for lack of better word, and throw them in a big city with no connections, I think the worst can and may happen,” says Williams.