Health Minister Pauline Frost announces to media, with Salvation Army area commander Major Al Hoeft by her side on Dec. 20, that the territorial government will assume control of the Salvation Army Centre of Hope in Whitehorse starting at the end of January 2019. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Yukon government to take over Centre of Hope building from Salvation Army

‘This is not a government of Yukon swooping in’

The Yukon Department of Health and Social services is slated to assume control of the Salvation Army Centre of Hope building in the New Year.

Health Minister Pauline Frost told reporters during a Dec. 20 announcement that the complex needs of clients are more than Salvation Army staff “are situated to provide” under its current regime.

“While this partnership has had its successes, both parties have recognized for some time that the services provided at the centre are not meeting either of our hopes or expectations,” Frost said. “We have come to the conclusion that the programming currently offered is not meeting the important needs of our citizens.”

A transfer of ownership will be sealed on Jan. 31, 2019.

Challenges some clients face, Frost said, stem from historical trauma.

The Christian organization will provide assistance during the changeover, offering its expertise as required, said Major Al Hoeft, area commander.

Salvation Army services at the Adult Resource Centre will continue.

In October, the News reported there were concerns about service interruptions at the centre, particularly during the day.

At the time, executive director Ian McKenzie said that, while day programming was a work in progress, it was available.

The Salvation Army has an abstinence policy, Hoeft said, meaning that an alcohol management program isn’t compatible with its mandate.

“We don’t, at any of our facilities in the country right now, run a manage-alcohol program,” he said.

Although there were few specifics about the future service model, Frost suggested that such a program could be introduced.

Asked if there would be any staff changes, both Frost and Hoeft said that would come out after further deliberation.

“At this time,” Frost said, “we have an agreement in principal and we’re working out the final details of what that transition will look like.”

Hoeft said staff members are being assessed, including McKenzie.

“All of these things are still in conversation. Every staff position, right across the board, is really in conversation at this point,” he said.

A potential financial exchange, Frost told reporters, could be part of discussions.

The building, which was paid for by the territorial and federal governments, cost approximately $14 million.

“This is not a government of Yukon swooping in. This is a partnership we’ve had some really great discussions on …” Frost said, adding that the transition plan will evolve in lockstep with community partners including First Nations and the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition.

The hope, she continued, is to advance shelter services, but also be a place where people can gather.

“A centre where individuals of our community can come and feel welcome and deliver programs and services that all of our community can participate in, not be a centre just for those that are vulnerable,” Frost said.

Last year, the department signed an agreement with the Salvation Army worth $3.1 million to deliver emergency shelter, transitional housing, and drop-in meal and activity programs, according to a copy of the document.

Earlier this year, a department staff member was seconded to help the organization with the transition and planning, Frost had said, and to ensure program requirements were being met.

Frost had told reporters that the initial contribution was $3.1 million to help with starter costs; the annual contribution is pegged at $1.2 million.

During the announcement on Dec. 20, Frost said this funding will remain in place.

The Centre of Hope opened its doors in October 2017.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

UPDATED: Porter Creek highway shooting now attempted murder investigation

Police believe incident was “targeted and related to the illicit drug trade and organized crime”

Inuvik mayor pens letter of concern about Dempster conditions

Conditions near Eagle Plains have been “terrible” the past two summers, she says

Yukon skiers embrace experience at Winter Youth Olympic Games

Derek Deuling and Sasha Masson skied for Team Canada at the 2020 Lausanne Winter Youth Olympic Games

‘It was terribly traumatic to lose a patient,’ nurse says during Blackjack inquest

The inquest is now happening at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre

Whitehorse council and staff consider low-income transit fares

The discussion leaves anti-poverty coalition members feeling optimistic

Today’s mailbox: Biomass, fire

Letters to the editor published Jan. 24

EDITORIAL: The health department needs a time-out

The information and privacy commissioner deserves to be treated better

Yukon Rivermen face tough tests on the road

The team is in the middle of its busiest stretch of the season — 10 league games in three weeks

Yukon skiers battle both rain and heavy snowfall at 2020 Haywood Western Canada Cup

“They also realize that you have to be ready for anything — extreme cold or extreme warm.”

City news, briefly

Some of the discussions from Whitehorse city council on Jan 20

Driving with Jens: Both motorists and pedestrians have responsibilities when sharing the road

Roadways are a shared-use public resource. They are meant to be shared… Continue reading

Today’s mailbox: Biomass

Letters to the editor published Jan. 17

Most Read