A prison in British Columbia's Fraser Valley is struggling to contain a spiralling drug problem, with drones making multiple deliveries to prisoners each day, according to a union leader who called the situation "insane."
John Randle, regional president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, said staff at the Mountain Institution in Agassiz are exhausted from handling the "non-stop" drone drops and overdoses among inmates.
"It's eating us alive," he said.
The union says in a statement that officers seized almost 200 grams of crystal meth and other drugs at the medium-security prison on Wednesday.
It also said there have been two fatal overdoses in the prison since mid-October.
Randle said the planned expansion of a needle exchange program to facilities that he said include Mountain Institution risks worsening the problem.
"Why, when we have an overdose problem, are we giving them another tool to overdose on?" said Randle.
Correctional Service Canada says on its website it has been rolling out the prison needle exchange program in federal institutions across the country since 2018 and it's currently being used at nine federal facilities.
It says the goal of the program is to help prevent sharing of needles and the spread of infectious diseases.
The service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Randle said the priority should be stopping drugs from coming into prisons.
"Federal prison is supposed to be sort of like the last resort to get these inmates clean and rehabilitated and it's just not happening,” he said.
He said the correctional service's strategies were “tying” their hands and current tactics aren't working.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2023.
Nono Shen, The Canadian Press