New life for Saskatoon sexual health education program

A shuttered sexual health education program in Saskatoon will return this fall.

Saskatoon Health Region has stepped in with money

Condoms on display at Sexual Health Centre Saskatoon. (Peter Mills)

A shuttered sexual health education program in Saskatoon will return this fall.

In May, the Sexual Health Centre Saskatoon's education program was told by the United Way its money was going to other projects.

That meant the program, which spoke to groups about everything from condom use to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) had to close down.

But yesterday, the Saskatoon Health Region told the program it would be coming forward with new money. Executive Director Evelyn Reisner says that's good news.

"I don't know of any other organization that provides the services we do," she said. "We don't duplicate other organizations' services. We actually work really well alongside what other people do." 

The news comes at an fortunate time. Earlier this week, the Saskatoon Health Region reported that chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are on the rise in the city.

Reisner says education is an important weapon in the fight against STIs.

"Well, I think it's central," she said. "I think education is the first tool to use when it comes to preventing any kind of crisis situation coming from sexual activity."

United Way of Saskatoon says the program was funded on a year-to-year basis, and was never meant as long-term funding.

It says sexual health education is important, but simply chose to go in another direction.

"We always have more requests than what we have funding for," said Judy Shum, Director of Community Impact. "There are always a lot of good programs that we want to invest in."

The Sexual Health Centre's program should start up again in September.

Reisner is still hopeful that the United Way will change its mind and fund the program again. She says that would create a full-time position, rather than the half-time position currently available.