14 inmates launch hunger strike at Ottawa jail over food, lack of sanitary supplies

OTTAWA — The Ministry of Solicitor General says a hunger strike by 14 inmates at the Ottawa Jail on Innes Road is over.

Deepan Budlakoti and 13 other inmates began their hunger strike at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre Wednesday morning to protest the food and a lack of sanitary supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 14 inmates are currently in the maximum-security unit.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Solicitor General says the situation was resolved late Thursday afternoon after “successful negotiations.”

The Criminalization and Punishment Education Project broadcast a statement from Budlakoti on Wednesday about the reasons for the under strike.

Budlakoti said the food served did not meet Canada Food Guide standards, was frozen, came in inadequate portions, and the Halal and Kosher products were substandard. Budlakoti says the “other pressing issues” are the items available in the canteen, including no antibacterial soap and body wash, a lack of healthier items and items are consistently out of stock.

According to the Criminalization and Punishment Education Project, the group has made several demands, including:

  • Alleviate food discrimination
  • Safe and healthy meals
  • TVs should be left on until 2:30 a.m. due to COVID-19/more TV channels
  • Reading materials
  • Increase access to outdoor activities and yard
  • Provide haircuts or the tools necessary to cut hair as per ministry policy

Budlakoti says due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they should have alternative visits with family and the ability to self-isolate.

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa before the hunger strike was resolved, Ministry of the Solicitor General spokeswoman Kristy Denette said the the ministry can confirm the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre continues to provide its inmate population with adequate supplies of soap, toothpaste and other toiletries, and provides cleaning supplies.

“All inmates are provided three nutritionally balanced meals plus one snack each day. Inmates who require a special diet for medical, religious or lifestyle reasons are accommodated accordingly,” Denette said.

“”The ministry’s policy across all correctional facilities is to provide healthy food options according to Canada’s Food Guide. All menus meet or exceed dietary requirements and contain all the nutrients for the promotion and maintenance of good health. “

With files from the Canadian Press. 

Source