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Social services seeking 'preferred rates' in renting hotel rooms following Sunrise Motel criticism

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The province is now seeking preferred rates when renting hotel rooms as emergency shelter for those on social assistance.

The Government of Saskatchewan has paid a premium for some hotel rooms used as emergency shelter.

It’s because the province won’t pay damage deposits. That policy has now changed and the government is seeking preferred rates.

“Hopefully we will be able to procure rooms in both Regina and Saskatoon for a set price as well as using damage deposits to see if that will increase the amount of hotels willing to take clients,” Social Services Minister Gene Makowksy said Tuesday.

Last year, the Ministry of Social Services spent $1.5 million on hotel rooms. That included $220,000 at Regina’s Sunrise Motel – which is owned by Saskatchewan Party MLA Gary Grewal.

Grewal has said he isn’t involved in the day-to-day operations.

“First we learned about the Sunrise Motel, but we need to talk a little more about the Thriftlodge Motel,” NDP MLA Meara Conway said during question period.

“I wrote to the minister in February about this. No answer. I asked about it last week. No response.”

Grewal is not involved in operations at the Thriftlodge in Regina but has declared the hotel as a source of income as a lender.

“How much public money did his ministry pay out in the last five years to the Thriftlodge Motel?” Conway asked. “The motel invested in by his office mate, the Sask. Party member for Regina Northeast [Gary Grewal].”

In his response to the questions, the Makowsky said he did not have the information – adding that “a lot of information was passed on to that member,” in reference to Conway.

The government says it will have an answer for the opposition before the current session of the legislature ends in May.

It also hopes to have competing bids from hotels that will result in reduced room rates.

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