Laval inmate dies after contracting COVID-19 as Quebec prisons deal with outbreaks

Quebec has the highest rate of infection in its penitentiaries of any province, with 163 confirmed cases out of a total of 290.

Province has more than half of all infections in federal facilities across Canada

An overhead view of the women's prison in Joliette, Que., which has the second-most cases of federal institutions in Quebec. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

A prisoner at a federal prison in Laval has died after contracting COVID-19, the first inmate in the province to succumb to the disease.

Correctional Services Canada did not identify the deceased, who was at the Federal Training Centre, a primarily minimum-security facility with a 400-person capacity.

In a statement Tuesday, CSC said it had "notified the coroner who will review the circumstances of the death."

Quebec has the highest rate of infection in its penitentiaries of any province, with 163 confirmed cases out of a total of 290.

There have been 96 confirmed cases at the Federal Training Centre, and another 52 at the Joliette Institution for Women. It has a capacity of 132 inmates.

Last month, an inmate at British Columbia prison died from COVID-19, becoming the first person to die while in federal custody. That province has the second-most infections in the prison population.

A report released last month by Ivan Zinger, Canada's correctional investigator, found that conditions of confinement are "extremely difficult" at institutions experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks.

At the end of March, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair asked the heads of Canada's prison system and parole board to consider early release for some federal inmates to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 behind bars.

Zinger recently told CBC News he has been unable to get information on how many federal prisoners have been released early to limit the transmission of COVID-19, as warnings about a potential rise in cases behind bars grow louder.

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