Between 110 and 220 inmates could be part of the 22 training sessions that Correctional Service Canada plans to pay for in the coming years at four prisons in Alberta, four more in Saskatchewan and three in Manitoba.
Each session will have between five and 10 inmates participating in training sessions set to start in 2017.
Bid documents posted online earlier this month show that the cost to provide the three-day training sessions should be no more than $108,800.
The winning bidder will have to supply chainsaws, cutting stands, logs, files, oil, gas, chains, and safety equipment to the inmates who take the course at medium and minimum security prisons, three Aboriginal healing lodges — including one for women — and the regional psychiatric centre in Saskatoon.
Only two prisons up for training sessions have maximum security wings: Stony Mountain Institution in Manitoba, and Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Prince Albert, Sask.
The documents also come with a warning to potential bidders: "Participants may exhibit difficult or resistant behaviour."
A spokeswoman for CSC said any inmate who lands in one of the courses has to be "screened for their suitability" and will be supervised.
Melissa Hart says prisons in other parts of the country also provide similar training to inmates, part of the department's mandate to "facilitate inmates' re-entry into the work force following their release."
Hart didn't say what work inmates do in federal prisons once they have completed the course, or what jobs the course helps them land upon their release. She said training is targeted at work in the trades, such as carpentry and cabinet making, and "many offenders" have landed jobs because of their training and demand for trades workers.
The chainsaw safety program is part of $33.8 million in federal spending budgeted this fiscal year that is targeted at training inmates for work upon their release, or to do work in prisons while serving their sentence.
A study that Corrections commissioned five years ago on its employment programs concluded that inmates who find work upon release are less likely to reoffend.
The department's most recent plans-and-priorities report says the goal this year is to help two-thirds of inmates in need of vocational training get hired after they are released from prison.