CAP calls on Quebec government to reverse policy putting inmates at risk
April 20, 2022 (OTTAWA) – At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair called on the heads of Canada’s prison system to release inmates as a safety precaution for COVID-19, to lower prison populations and limit the spread of COVID in institutions. In Quebec, a temporary COVID-19 exception was granted for detainees who were “intermittently sentenced,” or sentenced to serve weekends that assigned inmates to their home during times when they were incarcerated, rather than detention facilities.
But now, as reported by APTN this week, while restrictions are lifting in Quebec, inmates who were doing their time under house arrest are now being ordered back to jail for the remainder of their sentences.
Statement from Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) National Vice Chief Kim Beaudin:
“We are in a sixth wave of COVID-19. This is not the time for vulnerable populations to be sent back to close-quartered detainment centres. APTN has reported overcrowding, low rates of mask usage, and lack of soap and hygiene products available at the Montreal-Bordeaux detention centre. This is simply unacceptable, and the decision must be reversed.”
“The antiquated policies of the Quebec government have led to dangerous conditions yet again. Since the onset of the pandemic, CAP has continuously called on provincial governments to release low-risk offenders and those on remand due to the risk of COVID-19. Although some progress was made, more measures must be taken to respect the human rights of all Canadians and keep the spread of COVID-19 in jails and prisons at bay. It’s been one step forward, three steps back.”
“Indigenous peoples are severely over-represented in Canada’s jails and prisons, surpassing 32% – nearly 50% for women. With higher risk of infection and spread of COVID-19 in detention facilities, this puts an already vulnerable population even more at risk.”
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.