La Ronge’s Scattered Site Outreach Program has closed temporarily for July and potentially August.

Executive director of the Kikinahk Friendship Centre Ron Woytowich, who runs the outreach program, said there are many reasons they decided to temporarily shut the program’s doors.

Some of the reasons were the condition of the building the program is operating out of, the diminishing number of clients in the summer months, but the main reason is lack of funds.

Woytowich said the summer is a better time to close to try and replenish funds because the program doesn’t see as many clients then as it does in the winter.

“Quite frankly, every summer the number of clients cuts way back,” Woytowich said. “They come to us during the winter because there’s no other shelters anywhere, then they go back to their homes, or go out into the bush and cabins, or they have other places. It’s not like in the wintertime when it’s really dangerous and we better be open or somebody’s going to die.”

He said he and his team tried to think of alternate ways to keep the program running this month and next but said they couldn’t.

“I’m serious when I say you have no idea how much we thought about this and we looked at every possible way. Like is there anything we can do, and the bottom line is it would cost us a lot more money and we don’t have that either right now.”

Woytowich said the program would have been shut down in April had it not been for a charitable donation.

“We have spent an extreme amount of money the last two months keeping the shelter open,” Woytowich said. “And we would have closed April 1, if it had not been for Cameco.”

Cameco provided funding for food and personal protective equipment for the shelter but didn’t pay for employee salaries.

The Scattered Site’s overnight program usually ends in April, once the weather starts to get warmer, however the shelter continued the service due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two of the employees from Scattered Site are now fundraising so they can make meals for the shelter’s clients. They are doing this voluntarily.

(MBC file photo.)