OTTAWA, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Canadian inmates said the public safety minister's ban of pizza-party drives will prevent thousands of dollars from going to local businesses and charities.
Vic Toews issued a directive in September halting food drives participated in by inmates in prisons across Canada to not only have a rare fast-food meal but also raise money for charities like United Way, Doctors Without Borders and for victims of hurricanes and earthquakes, CBC News reported Friday.
"Canadians were concerned that dangerous and violent prisoners had ... access to pizza parties and BBQ socials," a representative for Toewes said in a statement to CBC News.
Lois Gorgerat, a volunteer for the United Way in Eastern Ontario, said she has worked with inmates at Warkworth Institution for 15 years to donate tens of thousands of dollars to local schools, humane societies and local firefighters.
"They raise from $5,000 to $20,000 a year, we're talking big dollars here and if you take that away it's gonna hurt the community," she said. "We know they are all bad guys, that's why they're in there, but darn it, if they're trying to do something good to give back to the community, why are you putting up these walls?"
Inmate Greg McMaster, who has been in prison for more than 34 years for murder, said at most inmates make about $54, so paying the $5 or $10 for pizza or chicken is a large investment.
"We're paying for that ourselves and by the same process, we're supporting local businesses in the community and on top of that we're making donations to local charities. So at the end of the day who's really getting hurt?" he said. "If someone's in an outrage that I enjoy a piece of KFC twice a year, I would say their priorities may be a little askew."