'It's just not fair': 21 residents of Grenfell Pioneer Home face temporary relocation

The Saskatchewan Health Authority says mould problem can't be fixed while the residents remain.

Saskatchewan Health Authority says mould problem can't be fixed without the move

Eight residents were relocated from the Grenfell and District Pioneer Home in 2016 due to safety concerns about one of its wings. Now all 21 residents must be relocated. (Adam Hunter/CBC )

Lloyd Gwilliam is worried about his 86-year-old mother, Shirley.

"She's going to be evicted," he said.

Gwilliam's mother is among 21 residents of the Grenfell Pioneer Home who will have to be moved to another home in Wolseley within three weeks due to a mould issue at Grenfell.

"She's declined in recent weeks," said the former Grenfell mayor who now lives in Winnipeg. "Moving my mother from there is going to take time off her life. It's just not fair. It's sad, actually."

Temporary relocation

The home isn't exactly closing, and the vice president of Integrated Rural Health Services in the province stresses that the relocation of the 21 residents is temporary.

"We recognize it's difficult to move from your home, particularly if you have to move to another community," said Karen Earnshaw.

The Saskatchewan Health Region has identified several possible locations  for Grenfell's residents, including Wolseley, Broadview, Montmartre, Moosomin, Melville, and Kipling.
Lloyd Gwilliam, former mayor of Grenfell, is worried his 86-year-old mother's health will be put at risk by leaving the long-term care home in Grenfell. (Submitted/Lloyd Gwilliam)

"There's also a personal care home located in Grenfell, and there are openings in the personal care home, so we committed to families we'd look to see if there are any residents who could be accommodated," Earnshaw said.

The health authority has not yet determined whether the mould issue can be fixed, or whether a new building is needed.

People have given half their farm to donations and been buried in the  Grenfell  cemetery and never saw a new home.- Lloyd Gwilliam

The ultimate decision is up to the Ministry of Health.

"They have committed publicly to this community that there would be some option of long-term care in the community," Earnshaw said.

Second relocation in 2 years

In August 2016, eight residents were relocated from the Grenfell home when nine of its rooms had to be closed due to safety concerns.

The residents were moved to Broadview, about 27 kilometres away, and Wolseley, which is 26 kilometres away.

While Earnshaw recognizes the inconvenience to residents, she says the health authority is unable to determine how much mould is present in the home without clearing out the building.

"We can't keep our residents there while that work is done," she said.

Gwilliam feels he has been through this before. He says various people in town had been fundraising for 40 years for the home to replace the aging wings: "And it's come to this."

"People have given half their farm to donations and been buried in the Grenfell cemetery and never saw a new home."


Bridget Yard is a journalist and content creator based in the Greater Toronto Area. Originally from Schumacher, a small mining community in northern Ontario, she spent a decade pursuing a career in journalism close to home, then in New Brunswick and Saskatchewan with CBC.