2 homeless men from Sask. arrive in Vancouver to media frenzy

Two homeless men sent by bus from North Battleford to Vancouver by Saskatchewan Social Services arrived safely but a Vancouver city councillor had sharp words for the government.

The Lighthouse says 2 homeless men given bus tickets to B.C. by social serv

Two Sask. men speak out about getting one-way Greyhound tickets to Vancouver from North Battleford. 0:46

The two homeless men who were given one-way bus tickets from North Battleford to B.C. by Saskatchewan Social Services arrived safely, but a Vancouver city councillor had sharp words for the provincial government.

"This is really egregious what they did," councillor Kerry Jang said.

"I mean, they put someone who's clearly, has some medical issues and all that on a bus and said 'good luck to you.' I mean, that's just inhumane."

Charles Neil-Curly, 23, and Jeremy Roy, 21, stepped out of a Vancouver bus depot into pouring rain and a frenzy of reporters who were awaiting their arrival after the news spread about the two men being given one-way bus tickets to Vancouver.

Neil-Curly told reporters social services refused to pay for him to stay at The Lighthouse homeless shelter in North Battleford and was offered a ticket to the West Coast instead.

Charles Neil-Curly and Jeremy Roy hopped on a Greyhound bus from North Battleford to Vancouver after one of them couldn't secure a spot at a Battlefords area shelter. The two men arrived in Vancouver at about 8 p.m. CST.

He said he was offered the ticket after a social services employee asked him if he had any friends or family outside of the Battlefords area. He said he had a friend on the Sunshine Coast and that a social services employee offered him the ticket. 

When asked by reporters he plans to do in Vancouver, Neil-Curly said he's going to try to get a job and find a place for him and Jeremy.

"And have a life I guess," he said.

Roy, who has high health needs and had received long-term funding from the shelter, heard about the offer and was also given a ticket.

Roy began to say a few words to media when he arrived but was unable to continue speaking after he began shaking. Jang said that Roy told him he has epilepsy.

The pair were met by staff from the Union Gospel Mission, a Vancouver homeless shelter.

Jeremy Hunka with the mission, said they offered the two men a meal and a warm bed for the night and they will help put them in touch with a caseworker to help them plan their next steps.

"Well when we heard that there were two guys coming to Vancouver without a place to stay and without a plan, we were surprised," Hunka said. "We were concerned."

North Battleford shelter manager shocked to hear men were sent away on a bus

A homeless shelter in North Battleford, says it can't believe two men were given tickets to British Columbia by a social services employee yesterday.

According to The Lighthouse, one of the men had been denied funding for a shelter bed by his social worker.

"I'm very shocked," said general manager Caitlin Glencross. "I've never seen a Sask. resident been given a one-way bus ticket out of the province."

Glencross said the men plan to find another shelter once they get to Vancouver.

"What if something happens to these individuals?" she said, adding one of the men is leaving the province for the first time.

The man's mother is very concerned about her son's access to medication. She told CBC that her son needs medication for epilepsy and social services has always helped him. She is worried about who will help him in Vancouver.

Shelter manager Caitlin Glencross says two men staying at The Lighthouse shelter in North Battleford were given bus tickets to British Columbia yesterday. (Supplied)
Glencross echoed the mother's concerns.

"So, having to navigate in a larger city where he has never been before, he's out of medication right now, it just leaves a lot of doors open for these gentlemen to fail."

In a statement, Minister of Social Services Donna Harpauer said the case is being reviewed. She said that regulations state a case plan has to be in place before transportation is provided, and the ministry will be reminding social workers of that.

Last month, The Lighthouse in North Battleford said it faces closure thanks to changes to the way the province funds shelter beds in the province.

Clarifications

  • A previous version of this story stated a social worker bought a bus ticket when in fact it was a social services employee.
    Mar 09, 2016 8:08 PM CT

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