I am sponsoring petition e-2797 because I am concerned about Canada’s new prison farm model.
Several correctional institutions in Canada have large tracts of farmland that have historically been used for prison farming programs. These farms used to be mixed operations involving crops, vegetables, and animal agriculture. They focused on local food supply and the rehabilitation of people who were incarcerated, but they were shut down by the Harper government in 2010 amidst widespread protests to keep them open.
The current government decided to reinstate prison farms, but instead of returning to the old farming model, they are starting a for-profit prison agribusiness. Correctional Service Canada is now establishing prison farms at the Joyceville and Collins Bay Institutions in Ontario, involving intensive animal agriculture to sell to the private sector.
An industrial-scale goat farming operation at these facilities will reportedly supply milk to an infant formula factory in Kingston, Ontario, which is owned by the Chinese corporation Feihe International. People who work at these farms will be paid less than a dollar an hour, putting cheap prison labour in competition with farmers in the open market. In addition, intensive animal agriculture is associated with higher carbon emissions and environmental pollution.
Any push to follow the US model of exploiting cheap prison labour for corporate profits calls into question Canada’s commitment to labour and human rights.
Instead of the agribusiness model, we should be implementing prison farms that are centred on rehabilitation, justice, and local food security. Canada has an opportunity to become a global leader and transform our prison farms into progressive models which provide wide ranging benefits to prisoners as well as to the greater community.
Petition e-2797 calls on the government to cancel the prison agribusiness, prevent the use of cheap prison labour for the private sector, and transition to plant-based non-profit models of farming in Canada’s correctional system.
I encourage you to sign and share this petition.
Correctional Service Canada (CSC) is establishing for-profit prison farms involving beef, dairy, and intensive animal agriculture selling to the private sector and possible export markets;
Prisoners will be paid under a dollar per hour;
Associating underpaid prison labour with the private sector is a human rights violation under International Labour Organization standards;
CSC recognizes the potential for abuse of animals in prisons and confirms that 14 bull calves have died in the first six months of this year at Collins Bay Institution under unknown circumstances;
CSC will initially acquire up to 800 goat kids in 2020;
In 2021, CSC will construct a multi-million-dollar facility at Joyceville Institution to mechanically milk thousands of goats producing 2,250 litres of milk per hour;
This federally subsidized agribusiness will be the largest goat farm in Canada, using prison labour to compete with farmers in the open market;
Beef, dairy, and intensive animal agriculture are leading contributors to the climate crisis, agricultural pollution, and zoonotic disease; and
Canadians are unwilling to bear the financial, ethical, and environmental burdens of these prison farms.
We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to:
Cancel this prison agribusiness;
Prevent for-profit use of prison labour for the private sector; and
Transition federally funded prison farms to a plant-based, non-profit model feeding food banks and food-insecure communities, as proposed by Evolve Our Prison Farms.