Sad news to report. Canada’s only private prison is being ‘insourced’ – despite the glowing success of the private facility. In fact, according to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services the private facility saved taxpayers $23 million in the first 5 years of operation and was set to save at least another $11 million over the next five (note: union labor rules that the private contractor had no control over led to the decrease in potential savings). “It costs an average of $162.32 a day to keep a prisoner in a provincial jail in Ontario. At CNCC, that was being done for $79.45.” So despite saving taxpayers at least $34 million the provencial government is yanking the contract. Why? Ideology and politics. The unions don’t want to compete and the government bowed to their pressure and anti-privatization activists…well they just don’t like privatization. The private facility had excelled in providing quality programming and developed educational opportunities for inmates. By all measures the facility was “safe and secure” providing the same or better inmate care as other public facilities…at a significant cost savings! With an eye toward results the contractor sought innovative community partnerships and developed relationships with the Simcoe County District School Board for high school learning as well as launching a very successful inmate bricklaying apprenticeship program in partnership with the School Board and Universal Workers Union Local 183. In the past two years the facility graduated over 50 inmates with Grade 12 diplomas and 30 apprentice stone masons. Further, the private facility’s medical unit was so efficient and effective that the Ministry had routinely transferred patients from other public facilities who required a higher level of care. Ultimately taxpayers stand to lose when ideology is put ahead of sound policy analysis. Given the available data that can be the only explanation.
Geoffrey Segal is the director of privatization and government reform at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets. He is also editor of Reason's Privatization Watch.