On Thursday, 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 at Joyceville and Collins Bay Institutions. Closed in 2010, the program has been renewed with additional technical skills certifications and community partnerships.
The announcement took place at Collins Bay Institution, where McCrimmon also provided an update on the implementation of operations, including the beginning of building the dairy cow herd.
“I am extremely pleased with the work of staff members, volunteers, the advisory panel, community organizations and offenders to reinstate farm operations,” said McCrimmon. “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.”
Mark Gerretsen, Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands, was also on hand at the announcement.
“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,” Gerretsen said. “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.”
Joyceville Institution saw a small herd of stocker (beef) cows introduced there in May and six dairy cows were purchased in June to begin 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, providing offenders at both institutions the opportunity to work with animals. A dairy goat herd is also planned for 2020.
According to a release: 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.
“We are very proud of all the progress made over the last year and look forward to seeing the harvest and livestock operations growing,” said Kelly Hartle, the CEO of Correctional Service Canada’s CORCAN rehabilitation program, which manages the farm operations.
“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,” Hartle continued. “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.”
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.
Offenders working with the farm 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.
Watch the full ceremony as live streamed on MP Mark Gerretsen’s Facebook page:
Photo: Wikimedia Commons (pd)