Fort McMurray teens swapping sexual favours for shelter: report
'Pace of life' in booming city contributing to problem, official says
Last Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2007 | 8:19 PM NT
A survey by a homelessness committee found some teenagers in the booming city of Fort McMurray are resorting to prostitution in exchange for a bed or couch for the night.
The report, released this month by the region's Homelessness Initiatives Steering Committee, said 65 young people between the ages of 11 and 17 are without a permanent home in Fort McMurray.
Most of them said they slept at friends' homes or in parks.
But Rod McDonald, chair of the committee, said the most disturbing finding was some youth trading sexual favours for a place to stay.
"The favours I refer to in the simplest terms, prostituting themselves in order to make a little bit of money to find accommodations," McDonald told CBC News. "Well over half of the respondents in the survey suggested that they were, you know, providing favours for a place to stay."
As many as 80 per cent of the youth in the survey admitted to abusing drugs and being involved in crime.
"It's family problems that they're experiencing and the pace of life, I guess, in Fort McMurray I'm sure has something to do with it," McDonald said of the oil and gas boom in the region.
"In many, if not most cases, both parents are forced to work and work long hours and you know, it's just not a real healthy situation to raise kids."
McDonald is pleading with various levels of government to come up with the money for a youth shelter. Right now, none of the shelters in Fort McMurray accept minors.
McDonald will be sharing his concerns with Premier Ed Stelmach and the cabinet ministers who are touring Fort McMurray Thursday.