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Inmates lose appetite over quality of food served at Regina Correctional Centre

REGINA — A hunger strike that started on the weekend over uncooked eggs is continuing at the Regina Correctional Centre.

Justice Department officials say on Saturday morning, more than 60 inmates refused their food trays, complaining the eggs they had been served were raw.

As of Monday morning, 34 prisoners were still refusing to eat.

Concerns about the food have been raised by inmates over the past month, and a petition with a list of demands was submitted to prison management on Nov. 18.

Food services at the jail were switched to a private company, Compass Group, last month.

Justice Department spokesman Drew Wilby says officials are looking into the matter.

"We are about six weeks into that (new contract) now and we expected some challenges of course, with any transition like that there will be some challenges," says Wilby.

"We have addressed some of those concerns with Compass Group and continue to do so and we're confident that we will be able to find a solution and make sure those high quality meals are being provided across the province."

Wilby says they are also monitoring the situation to the ensure the safety of the staff and inmates is maintained.

The Saskatchewan NDP issued a statement on Sunday, accusing the SaskParty government of "risking public safety in order to pursue privatization."

"Saskatchewan families also don’t want to see a flood of inmates needing medical care as a result of spoiled or raw food," says NDP central services critic Warren McCall.

The Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union says it warned there would be issues with privatizing food services in prisons.

"These trays of food are being sent back and new trays being brought forward," says union president Bob Bymoen. "Who's billing for the new trays, is the government paying for the additional trays of food? In the contract, if they order additional trays of food they have to pay for it, so are we paying twice to feed the same people?"

Bymoen hopes the government rethinks its decision.

"With Compass they have a chance to review this and own up to their mistakes and get out of this contract in a year and they should seriously be looking at that."

Compass Group Canada did not return a call seeking comment.

(CJME)

CJME, The Canadian Press

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