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Prison farm advocates pleased with budget announcement

Prison farm advocates pleased with budget announcement

The federal government pledged more than $4 million to reopen two prison farms

By Diego Flammini
News Reporter

Two Ontario prison farms are scheduled to reopen after the federal government announced program funding during its budget presentation Tuesday.

The prison farms at Joyceville and Collins Bay will receive a combined total investment of $4.3 million over five years to restart agricultural production after the Conservative government closed the prison farms about eight years ago.

The farms will reopen to “provide federal inmates with training opportunities to acquire new skills, while preparing for employment and successful reintegration and rehabilitation into the community,” the budget says.

Supporters are pleased with the government’s announcement and how it included the public in its decision-making process.

“This government, they did it right, although we’re all impatient, they asked for consultation,” Jeff Peters, a member of the group Save Our Prison Farms, told Global News yesterday. “Six thousand people said they want the prison farms returned and you can’t ignore that type of response.”

The government will make the funding available beginning in April.

Part of the $4.3 million will be used replace the 50-year-old barn at the Collins Bay facility, Peters told CBC Wednesday, adding the goal is to be up and running before next winter with a herd of 33 dairy cows.

Now that the two in Ontario are reopening, other officials are hoping the farms in their provinces are afforded the same opportunities.

“We’re going to view this as an opportunity…to have ongoing discussions with the government about what can be done at Rockwood (Man.),” John Hutton, executive director of the John Howard Society of Manitoba, told CBC today.

The farm at Rockwood was primarily a dairy operation where inmates had specific responsibilities.

“They might be getting up in the middle of the night to help a cow when it was calving,” Hutton told CBC. “It was creating a real sense of personal responsibility, and, I think, esteem.” 

Top photo: Aerial view of the prison farm at Collins Bay