Clustering of food services at CSC another step towards the privatization of our prisons

The Correctional Service of Canada has announced that it will be moving forward with its plan to cluster food services within its penitentiaries. The rationale for this move is based on apparent cost-savings. The USGE is not convinced that these perceived savings can make up for the negative impact this move will have on the offender population. By clustering services, CSC will be removing opportunities for inmates to gain valuable and transferrable work and interpersonal skills. Furthermore there is real concern that the quality of centrally-produced food will suffer. Finally, by changing the way food is produced in the institutions, CSC is moving towards a more American way of dealing with offenders, that is to not worry about rehabilitation or training, but rather warehousing offenders for the term of their sentence, then releasing them, without the tools or knowledge necessary for a successful reintegration into society.

In the 2007 CSC report, A Roadmap to Strengthening Public Safety, the panel identified employment/employability as one of the key areas to be strengthened. The panel was quite clear, that “[w]ithout the means to earn a living upon release, an offender’s rehabilitation is jeopardized.” Within CSC’s own mandate, one of rehabilitation and reintegration, it states that it,

assists offenders in increasing their level of employability, and therefore, facilitation their successful reintegration into society and the labour force. Offenders must be meaningfully occupied.

The Roadmap report adds that “CSC must integrate employability/employment initiatives and correctional and educational programs within a restructured work day.” And CORCAN’s governing principles address this by recommending that “Operations Managers should maximize hours of work, the goal is to strive for 37.5 hour work week.”

USGE questions how this can be achieved by the inmates in the reception sites who will be reheating and replating the meals. We fail to see how their work hours will be filled, or how this button-pushing will be meaningful and fullfilling work.

USGE is calling on the CSC to rethink this latest move towards the Americanization of our correctional program and to be true to our Canadian values of rehabilitation and reintegration, not retribution.