A report says giving two homeless men in Saskatchewan one-way bus tickets to British Columbia was within Social Services policy but the situation could have been better handled.
The men aren’t named in the report, but Charles Neil-Curly and Jeremy Roy made news in March when it was reported that they had been living at a homeless shelter and were sent out of Saskatchewan.
The internal government report notes that the two men went together to an income assistance service centre in North Battleford to request the tickets.
It says providing transportation aid is within policy and notes that Alberta and Manitoba have similar rules.
“I was a little disappointed in some of the response, especially by some of the reporters in British Columbia, that they didn’t question the rights of these individuals or the reasons, and so, yes, it was a little frustrating and I do feel a little vindicated,” Social Services Minister Donna Harpauer said Thursday in Regina.
The report also says aid workers should have looked at the men’s cases on an individual basis, rather than at the same time, to make sure the plan was the right one for each of them.
There are 10 recommendations, including additional training for all supervisors and front-line workers on out-of-province moves and transient aid.
The report says Saskatchewan should have contacted B.C. officials sooner and given the men more information for their options upon arrival.
“They had not done that until after the clients were on a bus, whereas normally it should have been done prior, so that’s an improvement that can be made,” Harpauer said.
She said transient aid can be provided for people returning to their home province where they have family support, for those fleeing domestic violence or for anyone having a job lined up.
In March, Neil-Curly said he chose B.C. because his best friend lives on Vancouver Island, and he hoped to start a new life with a job and a home.
But he also told reporters in Vancouver that he probably would have stayed at the shelter if he had a choice. He said he had support there as well as his own bed.
Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang called the case egregious and disgusting, and noted that Roy told him he has epilepsy.