Media Release: Yellowknife Day and Sobering Centre services

December 1, 2019

*Statement issued by the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority and the NWT Disabilities Council, the operator of the Sobering and Day Centre.

On December 2nd, the Yellowknife Day Centre will be implementing a policy change that will restrict access to Day Centre services to homeless individuals. This change is intended to focus the services of the Day Centre on those that are homeless and not receiving support from other community-based organizations.  It is important to note that the Sobering Centre, which provides a safe place for individuals to sleep off the effects of intoxication, is not changing. These supports will still be accessible for all members of our community in need.

There are several factors which have led to the decision to re-focus Day Centre services.  The formal program evaluation, which is intended to guide continued quality improvement of the Day Centre services, recommended the provision of supportive services, case management and cultural programming to assist homeless clients. By redirecting individuals that are housed back to their own residence and/or service providers, we can create a space that is conducive to the delivery of programming specific to the needs of our clients. 

There have also been significant safety concerns raised for our staff and clients as well as the general public. Efforts to offer more targeted programming to those who are homeless and not attached to other service providers is seen as an important step in managing the operations of the Centre.  The new policy will also assist us in implementing the Good Neighbour Agreement to more proactively address the public safety concerns of the neighbours in the vicinity of the Sobering/Day Centre as well as those of the general public.

In implementing this policy, we also understand that we cannot abandon individuals who are not homeless who need support. Over the past month the NTHSSA, NWT Disabilities Council, and many partners have been working to identify those who will be most impacted by this change. We will work hard to ensure they have the appropriate supports from the appropriate organizations, NGOs, and different levels of government who are responsible for providing assistance.

When these services were established in a combined centre, just over a year ago, we committed to ensuring that we monitor and measure our outcomes and impact. This will continue, with an enhanced focus over the next 6 months, as the information we collect continues to inform changes so we can refine services.

We will be monitoring the impact of the new admission policy. This will be a collaborative approach with stakeholders such as NGOs, City of Yellowknife, RCMP and GNWT Departments to ensure that service providers and / or stakeholders have an avenue to provide their feedback on the impact and risk to clients. We will share these findings with our stakeholders which includes the RCMP, City of Yellowknife, NGO service providers, and GNWT Departments.

Community advocates and service providers continue to have access to the Day Centre to connect with their clients. Anyone can also leave a message for Centre clients if they are not present in the facility and these will be conveyed to the individual the next time they access services.


  • There are 66 individuals who currently access the day centre that will be immediately impacted by the change.
  • Out of this group of 66 individuals there are 17 individuals who we know access the day centre on a regular, almost daily, basis.  These individuals are either self-housed or supported by some form of housing program. 
  • A group of approximately 130 homeless individuals are expected to continue to access the day centre daily.
  • The Sobering Centre has served over 8,000 bed accesses by 200 unique individuals to date.

So far the combined centre has:       

  • Independently and successfully housed 3 homeless individuals. 
  • Helped 15 homeless individuals return and reintegrate in their home communities. 
  • Successfully referred 34 individuals to addictions treatment programming.
  • The capacity of the Day and Sobering Centre facility is 99 individuals at any given time.

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