Saskatchewan gives two homeless men bus tickets to B.C.

Saskatchewan Social Services Minister says the case is being reviewed by her department

VICTORIA – Premier Christy Clark says British Columbia will welcome two homeless men from Saskatchewan after they say they were given one-way bus tickets to her province.

Welcoming people without judgment is what being Canadian is all about, Clark said Wednesday.

“I hope that these two people, I don’t know very much about them, but I hope that where ever they are they are able to get the care they need,” she said.

“We’re Canadian. We should be doing that.”

Charles Neil-Curly, 23, and Jeremy Roy, 21, arrived at Vancouver’s bus station on Wednesday afternoon.

Asked if he was happy to be in B.C., Neil-Curly replied: “Yeah, I guess. I don’t have to sleep in a snowbank.”

Clark said she thinks B.C. has a duty to support people in need.

“Our economy is doing better than anywhere else in the country, so people of all shapes and sizes, of all skills, health and wellness, are going to be coming to B.C.,” Clark said. “We aren’t going to reject people coming to our province because they need help.”

The two men are from Saskatchewan. They say they received one-way bus tickets to B.C. from North Battleford, Sask.

Saskatchewan Social Services Minister Donna Harpauer says the case is being reviewed by her department.

“I reaffirmed to the deputy minister that regulations require a case plan be established by workers and clients before transportation be provided,” Harpauer says in a statement. “The deputy minister is also reviewing if case plans were in place for these individuals and he will be reminding frontline workers that clients should have a plan in place before they are given bus tickets for destinations away.”

Saskatchewan is in an election campaign and the New Democrats issued a statement accusing the government of Saskatchewan Party Leader Brad Wall of tackling poverty by buying people “a one-way ticket to B.C., putting them on a bus, and shipping them out.”

Governments have offered people help to leave a province before.

Former Alberta premier Ralph Klein cut welfare rates in the 1990s and offered one-way bus tickets to B.C.

In 1995, the Ontario government offered up to $1,500 in travel expenses to welfare recipients to move to B.C. if they could prove they had roots in the province.

B.C. Housing Minister Rich Coleman said government data indicates homeless people from Alberta and Saskatchewan are arriving in the province in large numbers.