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Lighthouse surprised by Makowsky’s pledge to move services out

Lighthouse director Jerome Hepfner says Lighthouse had no warning about Makowsky comments.
Cabinet shuffle 6
Gene Makowsky meets the media after being sworn in as minister of Social Services.

SASKATOON — The Lighthouse Supported Living Inc. has issued a statement saying they are "disappointed" with the announcement by Social Services Minister Gene Makowsky regarding the future of programs out of the location.

Makowsky's "announcement" regarding The Lighthouse was made not in an official government news release or press conference, but in an appearance on John Gormley's radio show on CKOM and CJME. 

In that appearance Makowsky told Gormley the government will be moving services out of The Lighthouse.

“I’ve become concerned about the model that they have at The Lighthouse, with having so many services concentrated in one area in downtown Saskatoon,” Makowsky said.

“So, for those reasons, what I and the government have decided to do is to move those services out of The Lighthouse.”

Makowsky further indicated to Gormley that Social Services and Ministry of Health have some operational funding, and that those different programs such as Supported Independent Living and the stabilization unit, "will be moving. Certainly this will not be an overnight thing."

He told Gormley they wanted to "get this right" and do a "reasonable transition, going forward."

"We will still continue to offer these services, it just won't be at The Lighthouse."

When asked if The Lighthouse had been notified of the changes, Makowsky responded "yeah, that's right." 

But the statement issued later in the day by The Lighthouse indicated something different. The statement from The Lighthouse's Jerome Hepfner is as follows:

"We’re disappointed by the minister’s decision and announcement in the media this morning. We had no warning and are expecting to discuss with the ministries of Social Service and Health, the services that will remain available at The Lighthouse and the path forward. We are meeting with our staff and will be in touch with our community partners to address the situation.

“Our concern is for Saskatoon’s homeless people, and we will work with our partners and the Saskatoon Tribal Council or any other organization where services might be moved, to ensure that homeless shelter services are maintained and that the transition is as smooth as possible.

“There are many caring and dedicated people here who are here helping Saskatoon’s homeless. We are committed to continue to assist the most vulnerable and homeless people in this community for as long as we can and are mandated to do so and we will help with the transition to ensure that people in need are looked after."

The Lighthouse has been under the spotlight lately over recently released court documents indicating former executive director Don Windels had been removed from his role by Queen's Bench court over his running of The Lighthouse, and in particular a questionable transaction by The Lighthouse in which Windels was able to maintain "personal and exclusive use" of a Saskatoon residence rent-free between 2017 and 2020. That case is now under appeal.