Prisoners at Saskatchewan Penitentiary have joined federal inmates across the country in a strike to protest recent pay cuts.
© Herald photo by Matt Gardner
Saskatchewan Penitentiary inmates have joined a strike among federal prisoners in multiple provinces protesting a 30 per cent pay cut that was imposed this week.
The federal government has imposed a 30 per cent cut in prisoners’ pay that took effect this week, deducting the funds from their paycheques as a means of cutting costs for the government’s Deficit Reduction Action Plan.
The strike initially began in Ontario at Bath, Collins Bay, Fenbrook and Warkworth Institutions. It later spread to the Atlantic Institution in New Brunswick, Donnacona Institution in Quebec and now the Sask. Penitentiary in Prince Albert.
Correctional Service of Canada regional communications manager Jeff Campbell described the Sask. Pen strike as a peaceful one.
“There have been some inmates who have not reported to work or to their program assignments, and in terms of participating in protests, they’re allowed to participate,” Campbell said.
“But by refusing to participate in their correctional programs or their work assignments, the offenders who do take part in that sort of thing will receive no pay.”
The paid jobs that prisoners perform at the institution are voluntary. Typical tasks include cooking, cleaning, repair work, garbage collection and helping out the grounds crew.
We’re managing it as it exists. Jeff Campbell
In the wake of the inmates’ strike, prison staff members have now taken over many of those duties.
“There are business continuity plans at all the institutions,” Campbell said.
“When a situation does arise, staff can step in and fill those gaps. So they’d be looking after some of the essential services.”
As the strike has remained peaceful, Sask. Penitentiary has not outlined any safety or security issues for staff at this juncture.
Campbell noted that prisoners who decide to continue their work duties will receive uninterrupted pay.
The multi-province strike has attracted growing media attention. But for the moment, correctional staff members are playing the situation by ear.
“We’re managing it as it exists,” Campbell said.
“I can’t really speak to or speculate on what may occur down the road. But for now, as I say, the protest is going on, but it’s a peaceful one and we’re managing to look after all the essential services.”