July 26, 2021

Ground Zero: Creating Better Futures for Youth

Today, Social Services Minister Lori Carr and Health Minister Paul Merriman joined the EGADZ Board of Directors, Ground Zero Youth Committee and community members in Saskatoon to celebrate the grand opening of Saskatoon's first 'for youth, by youth' emergency shelter - Ground Zero Youth Transition Home.

The program provides an immediate, safe place to reside while making positive social connections and obtaining secure, long-term housing or placement. Outreach services will also be available for youth who have moved out of the program.

"This new housing program has been entirely driven by the Youth Committee to ensure it meets the unique needs of the youth who will access Ground Zero," said Carr.  "I applaud the incredible work and passion demonstrated by this group of young people to get this program off the ground and thank EGADZ for their tireless work strengthening Saskatchewan youth, families and communities."

The Government of Saskatchewan has committed $1.1 million in ongoing annual funding to support this new EGADZ endeavour.  The Saskatchewan Health Authority will also provide $244,000 in funding.

"We have never been so proud in our lives because it will change so many lives and influence change on how services are delivered for youth," said Youth Committee Co-Chairs Sam and Christa.

Ground Zero offers 10 bedrooms to help youth aged 15 to 19 transition to independence by providing an array of supports and services, including mental health and substance use, social services, education, medical and mobile outreach.  Youth will also have access to nutrition programming, laundry facilities, 24/7 on-site staff support and case planning that is youth-centred and youth-driven.

"We are honored to be involved in such an important program that has been driven by the youth from day one," said EGADZ Executive Director Don Meikle.  "Not only have we gained a needed service for youth; we were also able to use this opportunity to expand and improve on Sweet Dreams.  This has been a win-win for youth and families in Saskatchewan."

EGADZ is a nationally and internationally recognized social innovator, and won Saskatchewan's first Governor General's Award for Innovation in 2019.  They offer several programs and services to Saskatoon's children, youth and their families to improve their quality of life, including street outreach, housing, education and employment support and parenting programming.