Union launches major campaign to save prison farms



    OTTAWA, June 26 /CNW Telbec/ - 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."




For further information:

For further information: John Edmunds, USGE national president, (613)
232-4821


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