Striking inmates' supporters protest outside Remand Centre

About 20 people rallied outside Manitoba's Remand Centre on Wednesday evening to support federal prison inmates who are protesting a 30 per cent pay cut.
About 20 people held a rally outside Manitoba's Remand Centre on Wednesday evening to support federal prison inmates who are protesting a 30 per cent pay cut that took effect this month. (Ryan Hicks/CBC)

About 20 people rallied outside Manitoba's Remand Centre on Wednesday evening to support federal prison inmates who are protesting a 30 per cent pay cut.

Inmates in several federal prisons across Canada are on strike after the government began deducting their pay as part of a move to recover costs under its Deficit Reduction Action Plan.

In Winnipeg, the Prisoners' Strike Network organized a rally outside the Remand Centre in downtown Winnipeg to draw attention to the issue.

"If, you know, we want to use the prison system as a form of rehabilitation, you need to treat people like humans and not like garbage," said John Benson, who speaks for the network.

Stony Mountain Institution is among a number of prisons across Canada where prisoners have taken strike action.

A Corrections Canada spokesperson has said some Stony Mountain prisoners have refused to do their program assignments and are not being paid as a result.

Until now, the top pay an inmate could earn was $6.90 a day, but only a small percentage of inmates received that. The average is $3 a day.

The rate was established in 1981, based on a review by a parliamentary committee that also factored in a deduction from inmates for room, board and clothing. Despite inflation over the past 30 years, inmates have not had a pay raise.

According to Correctional Service of Canada figures, the move will save about $4 million a year out of the agency's more than $2.6-billion budget.

However, critics argued that the costs to public safety will be even greater, noting that many prisoners save to send money home to support their families.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.