The Saskatchewan government has signed a five-year agreement with Compass Group Canada to provide food services at eight correctional facilities in Regina, Saskatoon, and Prince Albert.
It said this will allow the Ministry of Justice to focus on community safety, programming, supervision, and rehabilitation.
In a news release Wednesday, Corrections and Policing Minister, Christine Tell, said this decision will allow the government to reinvest in programming and provide the best possible service to the offender population.
Tell added contracting with Compass Group will bring efficiency and consistency to food service delivery in correctional facilities while saving taxpayers’ dollars.
The province believes it will save about $12 million over the five years. But the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union, which represents jail workers, does not think any money will be saved.
“We believe it’s going to cost more money,” said Bob Bymoen, President of the SGEU.
Bymoen said the government is trying to sell the idea that the Compass Group has agreed to take less money in this agreement.
“They’re going to provide this service for 40 per cent less to Saskatchewan inmates for Saskatchewan then they did for B.C. or Alberta,” said Bymoen. But he isn’t buying that.
Sixty-two people will lose their jobs as part of these changes. The government said some of those will be retrained as correctional workers. It’s unclear whether there are enough available jobs to accommodate all of them.
Instead of having the Compass Group take over the kitchen services, the SGEU would like the province to address some of the serious issues at correctional facilities.
In a news release, Bymoen said there is a widespread problem in all of our provincial correctional centres, largely due to overcrowding and lack of staff, and employees have had concerns about the possibility of serious injuries. He added this will only get worse unless the root problems are addressed and those are not in the kitchen.
Compass Group Canada has more than 35 years of experience in Canada. They also have experience providing food services at correctional services in Alberta, Ontario, and British Columbia.