OTTAWA - Prison social workers won't be acting as valets for prison inmates any more.
"Institutional staff are not personal shoppers," Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Wednesday.
Until now, social program officers have had to go on shopping trips on the demand of inmates - using prisoners' money to buy guitars, flutes, knitting supplies, or other items not stocked by prison canteens.
Toews said he's now standardizing the way special purchases are made.
"From now on, to be more efficient and ensure the best use of tax dollars, staff will visit a set list of stores on a scheduled trip so that they're not making several small trips each time they get a request," Toews said. "There will also be the option of ordering from a catalogue."
The move comes as part of a raft of changes meant to teach prisoners accountability for their crimes and save taxpayers $10 million per year.
Among other changes, Toews said inmates will have to pay more for the cost of housing and feeding them.
Inmates earn between $5.25 and $6.90 daily for work behind bars, with unemployed offenders getting a daily allowance of $1.00.
Starting next year, the highest paid inmates will have to contribute 30% of their incomes to cover room and board.
"In dollar figures, this means between $1.58 and $2.08 per day," Toews said.
Inmates will also have to pay more for the administration of their phone system, incentive pay to join work-training programs will disappear, and inmate committees will eventually handle administration for all prison canteens.