Inmates at Canada's federal prisons have not received a pay raise in 32 years, when the government determined the top pay an inmate could earn would be $6.90. The average is $3.
Photo Credit: Thomas Porter/The Canadian Press

Inmates strike over pay cut


Prisoners in Canada’s federal penitentiaries have gone on strike to protest a 30 per cent cut in their pay. Inmates earn an average $3 a day, less than a third of the minimum wage in provinces like Quebec. They have not had an increase in 32 years although costs have risen more than 700 per cent.

To add insult to injury, the government now wants them to pay for items the prison will no longer provide, such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, stationery and stamps.

Prisoners’ pay cuts are ‘nickel and dime’ changes, says Correctional Investigator Howard Sapers.

Ombudsman criticizes pay cuts

The move is insensitive and short-sighted, says Howard Sapers, the ombudsman for federal inmates. He adds it undermines the idea that inmates should develop a good work ethic and save for their release. “This really minimizes and jeopardizes the ability of an offender to come out of prison with any kind of bank account whatsoever.”

The pay cut will save the incarceration and rehabilitation system $4 million a year out of a total budget of more than $2.6 billion. It is in keeping with the current government’s tough on crime agenda.

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7 comments on “Inmates strike over pay cut
  1. Trevor Goble says:

    As a former federal prisoner I can’t believe the government is going to force inmates to purchase necessity items like soap an shampoo. If the inmates decide not to purchase them then what…at some point it becomes a health issue leading to deceases and perhaps death…then what…the government gets sued and they probably will lose…there goes the savings. One person has it right if the government truly wants to save money on the prison system then stop putting everyone in prison. In fact section 718 of the Criminal Code even states that someone’s liberty shouldn’t be taken if there is other means and its suitable. Ontario and Judges have fallen in the same trap and cycle…charge, convict and send to jail. I am not saying there isn’t time a person shouldn’t go to jail…Paul Bernardo for example but the jails are overcrowded with shoplifters, petty crimes, fraud etc… now some of these are serious and perhaps jail is the only solution. Then you have the repeat offenders you know the ones that have multiple charges and obviously jail doesn’t work then what…forced restitution and making these people work off every dollar in the community at incarcerated rates so if someone steals 50,000 dollars and they are paid 3 dollars a day it would take 45 years to pay it back to the community…I would think this would be grueling and speaking from experience…wow it would take a toll and if the person gives up then the sentence that would apply would come into affect less the days worked.

    The government would save money, provide the community with real support and teach the offender a lesson and value the importance of a dollar

    • Taxpayer says:

      It’s amazing how you consider it “petty crime”. I would hardly consider stealing money from hard working individuals and ruining their credit for years petty. It is amazing on how you are able to manage to do this for years and serve zero to barely no time. How about you get a real job instead of living off others. As far as I am concern, why on earth should the tax payers be required to pay for your “hygiene products”. That not how the real world works outside. You do the crime, pay your time. Repeat offender that expect the system to provide for him. Typical.

  2. It would be save more money to put less people in prison in the first place.

    • angry says:

      im disgusted at this scam of the goverment, and also disgusted at people who are so negative towards imates.

      prisoners use this money that they work for to buy shampoo, shaving cream ect….also alot send they money home to help out with children and bills ect.

      so once again our sweet government has yet again picked on the weak, if its not the seniors its welfare if its not welfare its mental health.
      its sickening. maybe the politicians should go shopping at the salvation army and eat at soup kitchens or maybe go get a food hamper. lose the name brand suits they wear and sell their fancy cars and houses and see what its like.

      prisoners are human, well most of them, not all are in there for rape , murder ect. some are in there for just trying to feed the kids or pay the rent and bills… instead of ranting on the prisoners…RANT ON THE GOVERNMENT CUZ ONE DAY IT MAY BE YOU IN PRISON.

  3. Susanne Gordon says:

    Oh boohoo …they don’t have money to pay for stamps, soap or shampoo? They won’t be able to have any money when they get out? WE pay for them to be housed, clothed, fed, receive medical care and be educated. How about that bill! They are lucky to have any pay as far as I’m concerned. Isn’t the saying, They’ve “paid” their debt to society! Now we have to pay for their criminal activity and worry about them having a bank account when they get out. Give me a break!

    • Nicole Bell says:

      Actually we don’t pay for their clothes they have to buy those too, and laundry detergent. If they cant buy those you’re sentencing inmates to live in filth. Stop being ignorant and get the facts before you decide to preach

    • Samuel says:

      Few things you messed up on, the inmates work for the prisons doing contracts for different people, building roads, making mattresses, refurbishing military vechiles etc. So the prisons the inmates work for are earning ALOT of money and only have to pay their staff 1/3 of what they would non-inmate workers. So the prisons are making much more money then needed to pay for the inmates necessity’s. The inmates are getting “room and board” So i do agree that they shouldn’t be paid a normal citizens minimum wage, but trying to say that we should lock up prisoners and not pay them for the work they do is disgusting. This is minimum security prisons! NOT MAXIMUM, these are minor crimes and people who have done most of their time, the jobs are to help them reintegrate themselves with society so they don’t feel the need to go back to stealing!