Save prison farms, say Solicitor General employees, National Farmer's Union
New website aims to turn around decision shut down valuable resource.
OTTAWA, June 26, 2009 — The Union of Solicitor General Employees (USGE), a component union of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), is launching a campaign to stop the federal government's plan to close six farming operations run by Correctional Service Canada (CSC) over the next two years.
The Save Our Farms campaign launched a website (www.saveourfarms.ca) to provide information about the farm programs and to mobilize public opinion against shutting them down. Save Our Farms hosts an electronic petition and provides a conduit for sending protest e-mails directly to Prime Minister Harper.
Also, working closely with organizations such as the National Farmers Union, the campaign is organizing protest meetings and community support events in the communities that will be most affected by any closures. Save Our Farms also intends to pursue an Access to Information request to force the government to make public the rationale for the closures contained in the Strategic Review recently conducted by the department.
The goal is to mobilize public opinion to pressure the Conservative government to reverse "an incomprehensible and short-sighted decision," says John Edmunds, USGE National President.
"The Harper government has so far been unable to provide a sound rationale for eliminating prison farm programs. It is outrageous that this major decision was taken without a proper accounting of the true costs and benefits."
Edmunds says the prison farms make many positive contributions both to inmates and to the communities where they are located, including:
- training in skills that directly or indirectly boost inmates' employment chances upon release;
- more effective rehabilitation and integration of former inmates into the community;
- a low-cost source of food products for all federal penal Institutions, leading to taxpayer cost-savings; and,
- creating an effective, positive and visible presence in local communities through contributions to food banks and other charities.
"Rather than eliminating prison farm programs," Edmunds says, "the government should be moving Correctional Service Canada in the other direction, increasing the availability of such programs and widening their scope."
Related individuals, organizations and significant events
Information: John Edmunds, USGE national president, 613-232-4821
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Posted: July 02, 2009
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