Nfld. & Labrador·New

Feds remain opposed to prison upgrade

Newfoundland and Labrador vowed Tuesday to go ahead with plans to build its own prison after the federal government once again said it had no interest in funding construction of a penitentiary.

Province vows to forge ahead without fed's support

Newfoundland and Labrador vowed Tuesday to go ahead with plans to build its own prison after the federal government once again said it had no interest in funding construction of a penitentiary.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said $1.9 million from the federal government is part of a larger anti-crime initiative. ((CBC))

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has been active recently in funding prisons across the country, earmarking some $275 million to various projects, but provincial officials have been frustrated by the government's reluctance to put any money into a replacement for the aging Her Majesty's Penitentiary.

"We have no plans to build new penitentiaries," he told reporters in St. John's.

Toews said the province has the responsibility under the Terms of Union to pay for prisons. He also noted that not only have none of the Newfoundland and Labrador Members of Parliament requested funding for prisons in the province, but claimed that they were opposed to expansion of the prisons.

Now, provincial Justice Minister Felix Collins said his department is working on its own plan to revamp the prison, as well as the entire provincial corrections system, without Ottawa's help.

"I won't speculate as to when you will see particular timelines on these things. But we are just about ready to go to cabinet with some proposals that we think are viable options for our infrastructure facilities in this province," he said.

But Collins said nothing should be expected in the upcoming budget.

Still, over the next year the government will refine its plan that will likely include the expansion and retrofitting of corrections centres across the province and possibly a cheaper and scaled down replacement for HMP.

Anti-crime funding

However, Toews did announce Tuesday that the government plans to give almost $2 million to local programs to help Inuit in Labrador and youth-at-risk in St. John's.

Of the $1.9 million planned for the region, $1.2 million is earmarked for the Nunatsiavut government to fund anti-drug, alcohol and violence programs. Another $700,000 is planned for the St. John's YMCA to offer programs to students who have discipline problems in school.

Toews said the programs are part of a larger anti-crime initiative.