January 11, 2022 (OTTAWA) – In response to the dangers of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant spreading in Canada’s over-crowded prison systems, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) today sent a letter to Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino, calling on him to take necessary steps to expedite the release of low-risk offenders and people on remand to limit the spread of the Omicron variant in federal institutions.
This is further to CAP’s calls in March and November 2020 for prisoners to be released.
Science shows that this variant is more infectious than others, and there is a growing call from experts and advocates to take steps necessary due to the risk of COVID-19 and Omicron in confined spaces.
“Any inmates that are on remand, low-risk, or close to completing their sentences must be released to ensure their safety and reduce over-crowding,” said CAP National Vice-Chief, Kim Beaudin. “There have already been multiple inmate deaths due to this pandemic. It is not to late to protect the lives of those who are still with us.”
Indigenous peoples continue to be severely over-represented in jails and prisons, surpassing 32%, and because of this, the pandemic continues to pose greater risks for Indigenous people. It is imperative that steps are taken to reduce over-crowding, lower the numbers of susceptible people in institutions, and reduce the number of high-risk infections that could result from an outbreak.
Kim Beaudin, National Vice-Chief
The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples is the national voice representing the interests of Métis, status and non-status Indians, and Southern Inuit Indigenous People living off-reserve. Today, over 80% of Indigenous people live off-reserve.