Regina jail inmates refusing to eat; premier says he believes meals high quality is OK
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says there’s one way to avoid prison food — don’t go to prison.
About 115 inmates at the Regina Correctional Centre are refusing to eat because of the quality of the food.
“I would just say that we’re always going to want to make sure that any food that’s provided in the public system to anyone is as high quality as it can be and certainly safe,” Wall said Thursday.
“We need to be very careful about that.”
The premier said he’s seen the menu and he doesn’t know many constituents who get waffles on a weekday morning — “whether they’re a little soggy or not.” He said he’s comfortable that inmates are getting a good choice and quality food.
“If you really don’t like the prison food, there’s one way to avoid it, and that’s don’t go to prison.”
Some inmates complained in December that the eggs they had been served were raw.
The government said no one has become ill and health inspections have been passed.
Prisoners first raised concerns in November, shortly after food services at the jail were switched to a private company called Compass Group.
The Ministry of Justice announced in August that it had signed a five-year agreement with the company to provide food services in eight of the province’s correctional facilities.
The government said the change would save nearly $12 million over the five years. Corrections Minister Christine Tell said at the time that the move would bring consistency to food-service delivery and allow the ministry to focus on programming to help offenders.
Corrections officials showed Thursday’s lunch tray, which included a cold-cut sandwich, coleslaw and soup. A peanut-butter-and-jam sandwich was also provided as a snack.
The company supplying the food has existed in Saskatchewan for more than three decades and also does business with the such as the City of Saskatoon and the University of Regina.
“There’s a lot of very credible public and private institutions that have been pretty satisfied … with their food quality,” said Wall.
“I’ve tried their food. If you’ve been at TCU Place in Saskatoon, you’ve tried the food. It’s pretty good. Tried the food in Moose Jaw at Mosaic Place when we had a caucus meeting there. It was pretty good as well.”