Nunavut, Ottawa cough up $76M to renovate Baffin Correctional Centre

The federal and territorial governments pledged money Wednesday to build a bigger and better Baffin Correctional Centre today, with construction set to begin in July 2018.

Ottawa pledges $56.6M, Nunavut to spend $19.1M to rebuild, renovate and rebrand Iqaluit jail

The Baffin Correction Centre has been called 'nothing short of appalling.' Federal and territorial funding has now been set aside for a new facility. (Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC)

The federal and territorial governments pledged money Wednesday to build a bigger, better Baffin Correctional Centre in Iqaluit, with construction set to begin in July 2018. 

In all, Ottawa will spend $56.6 million and Nunavut will spend $19.1 million on a new $75.8-million facility. 

The Nunavut government laid out its plan to renovate, rebuild and rebrand the jail as the Qikiqtani Correctional Healing Centre last October. The territory set aside $18.7 million in 2015 to spend on renovations at the jail over the next five years. 

The new building should allow more offenders to serve their time in the territory.

"When prisoners do not have a space here in Nunavut, they are sent outside of the territory to do their time," noted Joe Savikataaq, minister of Community and Government Services. 

The project will begin with construction of a two-storey maximum security unit. Phase two will renovate the existing jail to create two medium security living units. The new facility will hold 112 inmates "and meet modern security standards, increasing the safety of both staff and inmates," reads a press release.

The Baffin Correctional Centre became notorious for conditions the federal Office of the Correctional Investigator called "nothing short of appalling" in 2014. Howard Sapers called for the jail to be shut down.

In 2015, a memo written by Nunavut's deputy minister of justice revealed that she was aware of "serious constitutional and legal concerns associated with the ongoing use of the Baffin Correctional Centre."

The territory's current Justice minister recalled touring the jail years ago.

"I was quite shocked by what I saw. It wasn't a pretty sight. So you fast forward eight years and here we are making this making this very significant announcement to our correctional facilities," Keith Peterson said at a press conference announcing the funding.

Nunavut Minister of Community and Government Services Joe Savikataaq, Peter Schiefke, MP for Vaudreuil-Soulanges, Que. and Nunavut Justice Minister Keith Peterson announce $75.8 million to renovate the renamed Qikiqtani Correctional Healing Centre. (John Van Dusen/CBC)