Let's Talk about Bell's Prison Phone Minute Cap
Bell Canada’s contract with the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services is up for renewal in 2020. Bell Canada has held an exclusive contract with the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario to operate their prison phone systems in federal and provincial institutions in Ontario. In many prisons, folks who are incarcerated can only dial-out by making collect calls to landlines which can cost over a dollar per minute. The Government of Ontario has not disclosed how much it has made in commission from their contract with Bell Canada, with all requests for information being redacted.
For several years, fearless advocates and groups across Ontario have urged the provincial government to make systemic changes not only to the state’s prison industrial complex but to the predatory jail phone system as well. Community organizers across the province are now calling for the Government of Ontario, and specifically the Ministry of the Solicitor General, to ensure free calls for folks experiencing incarceration, to eliminate the 20-minute cap on phone calls, and to allow folks to make calls to both cellphones and switchboards.
CSSDP Ryerson has drafted a pre-budget submission (attached) so that concerned community members can demonstrate their support for the campaign to meaningfully reform the prison phone system. This document can be used as-is or as a template to respond to the Ontario Government’s 2020 Budget Consultations.
It is recommended that concerned community members share this information with their networks to encourage other individuals and community groups to send in submission before February 11th, 2020. It is also encouraged to personalize the submission so that folks can inform the pre-budget process with information about the diverse issues impacting folks experiencing incarceration and their support systems.
Submissions must be:
- 500 words or less;
- Emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and:
- Include your name and/or the name of your organization;
- Use “2020 Budget Consultations” in the subject line; and
- Attach your submission as a PDF or Word document (see attached draft you can use or alter).