As part of its new provincial approach to homelessness, the Government of Saskatchewan announced that it is investing $14.1 million to create up to 120 new permanent emergency shelter spaces in several communities including Moose Jaw.

John Howard Society of Saskatchewan CEO Shawn Fraser says the announcement came as a bit of a surprise, noting there have been calls from the community for over a decade to help join the federal government in funding homelessness across Saskatchewan.

"It's the type of money that will have a real impact," he commented. "Unfortunately, the homeless situation in Saskatchewan is growing. It's not too many years ago that it was rare to see a homeless person in Moose Jaw. Now that's certainly not the case."

Fraser views the money as an investment rather than an expense, saying in the long run, it will save the province money in costs such as health and policing.

The Ministry of Social Services says work is underway with community-based service providers to determine the number of additional emergency shelter spaces in each community. The province adds that municipal governments will help to identify the location for any new emergency shelters with capacity limits appropriate for the neighbourhoods where they are located.

While details of how the money is going to roll out are unknown at this early stage, Fraser hopes to see things in motion before the colder weather arrives.

"We have some sense that the shelters in Regina and Saskatoon, they hope to be open for first thing in the new year. There was just a call for proposals that came out yesterday [yesterday] with a goal of having those shelters open for January 1. That's not soon enough. Certainly, it's never a good time to be homeless, but the cold weather's coming so there's going to be a pinch in all of our major cities in Saskatchewan for sure."

Fraser says the idea of ending homelessness in any city across Saskatchewan is possible. 

"Ultimately this money is the type of money that if it's invested and spent correctly, it's going end up showing returns in lots of different other ways," he concluded.

In response to Canada's Online News Act and Meta (Facebook and Instagram) removing access to local news from their platforms, Discover Moose Jaw encourages you to get your news directly from your trusted source by bookmarking this page and downloading the Discover Moose Jaw app HERE.