Court challenge to inmate pay places prison labour program in the crosshairs
Surrounded by hundreds of prisoners in the Collins Bay Penitentiary yard, Jarrod Shook listened while a fellow member of the inmate committee delivered news that wasn’t going to be well received.
It was 2013, and the committee had just learned the governing federal Conservatives hadn’t been bluffing when they announced a slate of “inmate accountability measures” the year before. Those measures included a 30-per-cent cut to the $6.90 or less inmates received for a day’s work. Added to existing deductions, their daily take home pay would now be $1.95 or less.
Most inmates had jobs maintaining the prison, doing work such as mopping floors and serving food. But the federal government was also cutting the extra $2 an hour earned by inmates who had secured jobs with CORCAN, an agency of Correctional Services Canada (CSC) that offers a wide variety of products and services, 90 per cent of which are sold to federal government departments, such as making office cubicles or welding material for tents for the Department of National Defence.