Youth workers are expressing concern about a cost-cutting move at a Saskatoon youth detention facility that is making it more difficult for families to stay in touch.

Kilburn Hall, a detention centre in Saskatoon, has closed a section that was for teenaged girls.

As a result, four youths who had been at Kilburn Hall were moved to another detention centre in Regina.

Youth workers say children with ties to Saskatoon may lose important supports that are no longer close by.

Families from outside of Saskatoon may also have to travel further to keep in touch with youths in custody.


A girls section of Kilburn Hall has been closed, to save about $30,000 per month according to the province. (CBC)

"Our concern is that some of the families and friends that normally would have been able to be connected to these youth ... it'll be more difficult," Shaun Dyer, from the John Howard Society, told CBC News. "They likely don't have the same level of resources as people who are better off."

According to provincial officials, the change will save the government about $30,000 per month.

Judy Orthner, a spokeswoman for the ministry that oversees youth detentions, said Saskatoon's Kilburn Hall was not operating at capacity.

"Typically the unit will house 12 girls and we found that we are averaging between three, four and five girls depending on the day, or the week," Orthner said. "So we thought that it was most appropriate to shut that unit down."

Orthner said officials are aware of the value of family connections and will try to ensure there are visits, especially over the Christmas period.

"We would make sure those arrangements were as a sustainable as they could be," Orthner said. "We don't want to inconvenience the kids or their families."

The future of a girl's section at Kilburn Hall was uncertain.

It was not known if it would reopen or be permanently closed.

"The decision would be either should we just continue to keep that unit closed, or if the custody counts do increase again, there's certainly an option to keep that unit open," Orthner said.

With files from CBC's Dan Kerslake