British Columbia

Homeless men from Saskatchewan given one-way bus ticket arrive in Vancouver

Two homeless men from Saskatchewan given one-way bus tickets out of the province have arrived in Vancouver.

Charles Neil-Curley and Jeremy Roy were welcomed by the Union Gospel Mission and a city councillor

Saskatchewan homeless given one-way bus tickets to Vancouver

6 years ago
Duration 1:54
Charles Neil-Curley and Jeremy Roy applied to stay at the Lighthouse Shelter in North Battleford, Sask., but were given bus tickets to B.C. instead

Two homeless men from Saskatchewan given one-way bus tickets out of the province have arrived in Vancouver. 

Charles Neil-Curley, 23, and Jeremy Roy, 21, arrived at Vancouver's Pacific train and bus terminal on Wednesday afternoon, welcomed by the Union Gospel Mission and Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang. 

The men had applied to the province of Saskatchewan to stay at the Lighthouse shelter in North Battleford, but only one of them got funding to stay. Instead, they say, they were offered bus tickets to Vancouver. 

"I asked for a ticket and five minutes later I had it printed off and I was leaving that night," said Neil-Curley.

"If I could have stayed and got funded at the Lighthouse, I would have stayed."

Neil-Curley said he has been homeless for about five months.

He said he's originally from North Battleford but lived in Victoria for 15 years and has a good friend there. His plan was to find a place to stay, get jobs for himself and Roy and start a new life in B.C.

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

'Egregious' action

"This is really egregious what [the province] did," said Jang. "They put somebody who clearly has medical issues and put them on a bus and said 'Good luck to you.'

"The first thing I said is, 'Welcome to Vancouver, we're a compassionate place."

Jeremy Hunka, right, with the Union Gospel Mission, and Coun. Kerry Jang were at the Pacific bus terminal to welcome two homeless men from Saskatchewan. (CBC)

Jang said social service agencies do sometimes help people relocate to another province, but only if they have a support network and a plan for when they arrive.

Union Gospel Mission spokesperson Jeremy Hunka said his organization reached out to the Lighthouse shelter to get in touch with the men as soon as they heard about their predicament. 

"We were surprised and we were concerned when we heard they were being put on a bus," said Hunka. 

"Coming to Vancouver without a plan and without a place to stay and joining other people struggling on the streets is a bad situation for Vancouver and especially for them — it's dangerous."

Hunka said UGM usually has a handful of people staying at their shelter from out of province, attracted by the West Coast's mild weather. But once they arrive, it's often difficult to find a place and get settled. 

"Putting somebody on a bus and sending someone out of province is not a way to end homelessness in anybody's life," he said.

The two men were taken to UGM for the night. Hunka said the organization would offer them any medical assistance they required and put them in touch with a case worker to assess their needs in the morning.