Drew Wilby at a correctional centre opening earlier this year. Photo by Chelsea Laskowski

For the second time in less than two months, provincial corrections officials are raising concerns with the new company it hired to provide food services at correctional centres.

To further complicate matters, about fifty inmates at the Regina correctional centre have launched a hunger strike after being served raw eggs on the weekend.

They were supposed to be boiled eggs, but an undisclosed number ended up being raw eggs during Saturday brunch. That provoked the hunger strike.

It has also prompted corrections officials to have another discussion with Compass Group Canada, the new company now in charge of providing food services at correctional centres around the province.

Corrections department executive, Drew Wilby, says some challenges were expected but he remains confident everything can be worked out.

“The transition happened on November the 7th and of course with any transition like that there are going to be come challenges, he said. “We saw those challenges and we have worked through them and we have a very willing partner in Compass Group,   and we will continue to work through those challenges with them.”

The NDP opposition has issued a statement saying this deal looks worse and worse. Party critic Warren McCall said, “Saskatchewan families also don’t want to see a flood of inmates needing medical care as a result of spoiled or raw food.”

Wilby does say stronger action is available to the government if Compass does not live up to its contractual obligations. The contract is expected to save the government about $2.5 million a year.

The NDP opposition says the move to privatize is creating a dangerous situation, putting jail guards and inmates at risk in the case that prison violence and rioting occurs.

McCall said “the Sask. Party is risking public safety in order to pursue privatization. The potential for prison violence, including rioting, is a very serious one.”

Wilby is also downplaying suggestions that safety at the correctional centre is being compromised in an effort to privatize.

“Our primary focus at any correctional facility is the safety and security of the staff, the offenders and anyone that might be there,” he said. “We are confident the team at Regina correctional are delivering on that mandate.”

At last report, the hunger strike was continuing.