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.
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.