REGINA -- Emergency shelters throughout Saskatchewan will get a helping hand from the government to keep their operations going during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government said the Social Services Pandemic Response, announced on Tuesday, will use existing resources, adapt policies and allocate new resources.

Soul’s Harbour Rescue Mission in Regina has had to change its operations since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Saskatchewan.

The organization continues to provide meals for those in need, switching to a takeout system.

"It’s effected the way we deliver our meal services, but not the number of meals we serve or quality of meals we serve," Soul’s Harbour Executive Director Joe Miller said.

The Mission serves about 250 meals on average per day, while also providing shelter at night for homeless in Regina and Moose Jaw.

The pandemic has had to limit the number of shelter beds it provides, dropping the number of beds in Regina from 24 to eight and in Moose Jaw from 10 to four.

"The reasoning behind all of that was to implement physical distancing, so we want to ensure not just a six-foot minimum, but between the cots and the beds, we went to eight or nine feet," Miller said.

Recognizing the need to support the province’s most vulnerable residents during this pandemic, the Provincial Government announced a Social Services Pandemic Response on Tuesday.

"Our Government has been working hard to develop strategies to help Saskatchewan people effected by this crisis," Minister of Social Services Paul Merriman said.

The Pandemic Response will include a one-time grant of $171,000 to help emergency shelters across the province, including:

  • Lloydminster Men’s Shelter
  • YWCA Regina - My Aunt’s Place
  • YWCA Prince Albert
  • YWCA Saskatoon
  • Lighthouse Saskatoon
  • Lighthouse North Battleford
  • Salvation Army Saskatoon
  • Salvation Army Regina
  • Soul’s Harbour Regina
  • Soul’s Harbour Moose Jaw

Miller says Soul’s Harbour in Regina and Riverside Mission in Moose Jaw, which is operated by Soul’s Harbour, aren’t government funded, relying solely on donations, so this funding will serve as a major boost.

"It’s obviously effected everyone, it’s effected the people we’ve served, it’s effected the businesses that support us, it’s effected the public that donates to us — the churches and the individuals," Miller said.