A much-needed service to the women and children of the Athabasca Basin will be built on the Black Lake First Nation before the end of 2019.
That’s according to Athabasca Health Authority (AHA) CEO Darryl Galusha said work began this month on a six-room women’s centre, which will be capable of housing two dozen people. The federal government announced in December 2016 the facility would be built, but Galusha noted it was delayed since then and only recently was the funding released.
“We’ve been working with (Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River NDP MP) Georgina Jolibois and she has really advocated for us in the House,” he said. “It really pushed things forward, so we finally had a release of money and we are building.”
With the cost of building the shelter sitting close to $3 million, Galusha added AHA will be looking to the federal and provincial governments for more money as all tenders received were higher than the $2.5 million granted by the Liberals. Galusha said the board has already decided if they can’t find the extra $500,000 from those sources to pay for the project, the health region is willing to cover the shortfall in its budget.
The new facility will be a freestanding structure with its own staff and treatment services. Galusha noted it will compliment the work of a family violence outreach coordinator who was hired this fall, as well as other employees in nearby communities. Cement will be poured this weekend and Galusha said crews plan to start framing next week.
“We’re trying to fight the winter weather up here,” he said. “We are moving forward and it’s really an exciting time.”
The AHA, which covers the far North in the province, is operated independently from the Saskatchewan Health Authority. Galusha said AHA chose to remain a separate identity as the needs residents are faced with are unique to the North.
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