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'The needs of the client': Ministry refutes Sask. NDP allegations of gov't funnelling social service funding to MLA owned hotels

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Tuesday night in government committee saw the Ministry of Social Services release documents revealing how much funding was sent to two Regina motels associated with Sask. Party MLA Gary Grewal.

The report showed in the three years prior to Grewal’s election in 2020 – the province paid the hotels just $1,309.

Since Grewal’s election, that number has risen to $731,194. Social Services has said it utilizes hotels when shelter spaces are unavailable.

The ministry has explained the increased funding to a rise of importance relating to assisting those with complex needs.

However, the Saskatchewan NDP have called the increase an explosion of public funds being funnelled to government officials.

Jeff Redekop, the executive director of income assistance delivery with the ministry, categorically denied the allegations.

“Frontline staff are looking for what options [are] available for clients who are in need,” he explained. “The ministry has generally no knowledge of who owns the hotel and has never been instructed by government to use a certain hotel.”

“It’s about the needs of the client,” he added.

Opposition critic for social services Meara Conway said the numbers don’t lie.

“Three quarters of a million dollars – it’s damning,” she said. “It’s right there in black and white. I know they want to make this about something personal. The numbers speak for themselves.”

Conway added that the hotel’s inflated their rates for rooms used by social services.

Social Services Minister Gene Makowsky has said amendments to the government’s procurement process and a pilot project are underway to bring hotel room related costs down.

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