Penitentiary farms officially relaunched

News release

August 15, 2019 - Kingston, Ontario – Correctional Service Canada

Today, at Collins Bay Institution in Kingston, Ontario the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Karen McCrimmon, officially relaunched the Correctional Service of Canada’s (CSC) farm employment program. She also provided an update on the implementation of operations, including the beginning of building the dairy cow herd.

The farms at Joyceville and Collins Bay Institutions renew the penitentiary farms model that was closed in 2010, with additional technical skills certifications and community partnerships. Through these partnerships, offenders will learn diverse employment skills and gain training opportunities that are transferable to a variety of types of employment in the community. The farms will also provide on-the-job training, vocational certification, and employability skills that will support offenders in their reintegration and contribute to greater public safety.

Offenders have been involved in all aspects of implementation, including renovation and construction, a beekeeping initiative, land repair and planting crops. A part of the harvest will be given to the local food bank. They will also be growing a row in these gardens to contribute to fresh food market stands of the Loving Spoonful’s charitable organization in the Kingston community.

A small herd of stocker (beef) cows were introduced at Joyceville Institution in May. In June, six dairy cows were purchased to start building the herd at Collins Bay Institution. The dairy cow operation will eventually be located at Joyceville Institution, with non-milking livestock at Collins Bay.  A dairy goat herd is planned for 2020. These will provide offenders at both institutions the opportunity to work with animals.

CORCAN, a key CSC rehabilitation program, manages the farm operations. CORCAN plays an important role in CSC's mandate to enhance public safety by providing offenders with the employment experience and skills they need to become productive, law-abiding citizens and skilled workers when they return to the community.

The relaunch of the farms follows extensive consultation with community members in the Kingston area, who have been overwhelmingly supportive.

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Quotes

“I am extremely pleased with the work of staff members, volunteers, the advisory panel, community organizations and offenders to reinstate farm operations. For people in custody, the farms develop empathy and provide transferable skills that support their employability, their reintegration into society and ultimately, the safety of our communities.”

Karen McCrimmon, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

“I am thankful for this opportunity for Karen McCrimmon, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety, and Anne Kelly, Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada, to visit the Collins Bay Penitentiary Farm to see first-hand the re-launching of the prison farms. This re-launch which would not have been possible without the hard work and perseverance of many Kingstonians.  It is important for government officials to fully understand and appreciate the value of these farming operations for inmates, the institution and the wider community.”

Mark Gerretsen, Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands

 “We are very proud of all the progress made over the last year and look forward to seeing the harvest and livestock operations growing. The penitentiary farm program contributes to CSC’s efforts in helping offenders make changes in their lives and rejoin society in a safe and lasting way. We appreciate the hard work, collaboration and commitment of the advisory panel members throughout this consultation process and we look forward to continuing to work with them.”

Kelly Hartle, CORCAN CEO, Correctional Service Canada 

Quick facts

  • There were nearly 6,000 responses and almost 300 participants at a town hall during consultations on the feasibility of re-opening the penitentiary farms in 2016. A seven member volunteer advisory panel provided advice on the model to CSC in 2017.

  • The reopening of two penitentiary farms at Joyceville and Collins Bay Institutions was announced in July 2018, with funding of $4.3 million over five years from Budget 2018. 

  • On any given day, approximately 1,067 offenders are working in CORCAN operations across the country. Over the course of a year, more than 3,700 offenders benefit from CORCAN’s on-the-job skills training. 

  • In 2017-2018, 572 offenders were registered as apprentices under CORCAN in areas related to trades such as residential framing technician, welder, industrial mechanic (millwright), painter, carpentry, electrician, plumber and cabinetmaker, among others.

  • Offenders also earned 14,100 vocational certificates in 2017-2018, with Indigenous offenders receiving 28 per cent of those certificates. These were earned in areas such as construction, manufacturing, culinary trades and a variety of safety training.

  • In 2017-2018, Community Employment Services helped identify 2,583 community employment opportunities for offenders (2,395 placements for male offenders and 188 placements for women offenders). 

Associated links

Contacts

Media Relations
Correctional Service Canada
613-992-7711
media@csc-scc.gc.ca


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