Saskatchewan

Foster children in hotels: Advocate stunned

Saskatchewan's Children's Advocate, Bob Pringle, says he was stunned to learn that hotels are still being used as homes for children in care.

Prince Albert hotels also used as homes for children in care

Saskatchewan authorities have been using hotel rooms as temporary homes for children in care. (Sara Calnek/CBC)

Saskatchewan's Children's Advocate, Bob Pringle, says he was stunned to learn that hotels are still being used as homes for children in care.

"This is not an emerging issue," Pringle said Friday after CBC News confirmed that youngsters are living in hotel rooms in Regina and Prince Albert. "This has been an issue for a long time and I was critical in June that they didn't have a strategy and ... you know, we're almost in three months later."

The Ministry of Social Services acknowledged that foster children, including infants, have been housed in Regina hotels, with 12 youngsters staying at one downtown hotel as recently as Thursday morning.

Officials also confirmed Friday that two children, who are related, are currently living in a hotel in Prince Albert where the ministry said they have also been using hotels through the summer.

"A trained community based organization is providing care and services to the children," an official from the province told CBC News in a statement. "In total there have been 16 children in Prince Albert who have been provided care at a hotel site for short periods of time in July and August while longer term placements were being determined."

The executive director of child and family programs with Social Services, Garry Prediger, earlier told CBC News that the ministry had to put children in hotels because more youngsters were coming into care at a time when the number of foster homes has been falling.

First Nations leader critical of ministry

The chief of the Pasqua First Nation, Todd Peigan, told CBC News Friday he is unhappy with ministry officials.

Peigan said he contacted the ministry months ago offering to work with them to develop an emergency solution that could be used for children in his community. Peigan said he never heard back.

He said he is especially troubled because its possible children from his community may have been affected.

He said youngsters needing stable homes should not be in hotels for extended stays.

"They have in their mind that [they are] in a hotel ... one night: 'I'm going to have one sleep over and then tomorrow I'm going home,'" Peigan said. "That thing leads into five days, seven days, or how many days that the ministry has them in these hotels."

The ministry's Prediger said officials are working on a plan to address the situation and hope to have a solution in place in September.

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