In 2009-2011, Canada’s prison farms were dismantled under the Harper Conservative government. Public Safety and the Correctional Service of Canada said the farms were not financially sustainable and “did not reflect labour market demands of today and of the future.”
In 2016-2018, the process began to restore prison farms under the Trudeau Liberal government, beginning in Kingston Ontario. Public Safety and the Correctional Service of Canada said the new farms “will build essential skills for employment.”
The former prison farms produced food for prisoners (dairy, meat, eggs). This included an abattoir which remains in operation today with prisoners slaughtering animals for a private company. The new prison farm model, announced in 2018 to be implemented over five years, will be commercial goat dairy. Prisoners will factory farm 2200 goats to produce infant formula for the Chinese market. While the goat farm has been delayed, a herd of 60 cows has been added at a cost of $20 million, to be milked for research quota, not for consumption or market sale.
Since 2016, Evolve Our Prison Farms has advocated alternative models involving green agriculture and animal-assisted therapy. In 2021, after publishing our academic report “Canada’s proposed prison farm program: Why it won’t work and what would work better,” the Correctional Service of Canada announced a “temporary pause” of its industrial goat farm plans. Despite the opportunity to re-evaluate and transition Canada’s prison farms, the Correctional Service of Canada quietly commenced dairy facility construction in 2022.
Original Evolve Our Prison Farms Proposal (2017)
2021 Prison Farm Report
2021 Prison Abattoir Report