All United Against Austerity !
Slashing public services, the Couillard government is taking one more step to advance the neo-liberal capitalist project. It aims to make waged labour more precarious and to privatize essential services, like healthcare and education, by submitting them to the market and throwing the burden on to families. Austerity measures are embedded in a reorganization of the world-wide capitalist economy, designed to increase the profit rates of the ruling class and investors. In doing so, the economy is shifting away from the Quebec model of capitalism, which the State used in the 1960s as a tool to answer the new requirements of the capitalist economy in terms of workforce training, social welfare for the population (regarding health and income) and the creation of consumer mass demand. We need to highlight the fact that these two development models were – and still are – based on the theft of Indigenous lands and their extensive exploitation by private capital, the subsidized bourgeoisie, and State enterprises, such as Hydro-Quebec.
Couillard imposes austerity, although he doesn’t hesitate to use a billion dollars to help out Bombardier, a private company that is “in difficulty”. We can see clearly where his priorities lie. The State condemns workers to work more for less, and hacks away at the basic services for which previous generations fought. If we do nothing about this situation, it is easy to see that it will lead to a general impoverishment of the population. This is why the population should mobilize in the greatest way possible to put pressure on the government, in the hopes of making it back down. The Liberals’ stubborn commitment to the path of austerity and privatization needs to be met with the rage and organization of those classes that are and have been made precarious.
We must advance in organizing the struggle against the Couillard government and its austerity projects!
Mobilize all layers of society that can no longer deal with the bullshit of seeing their lives falling apart!
Budget Cuts in the Prison Sector; Prisoners Can’t Handle it Anymore!
Provincial prisoners come from the most marginalized and exploited layers of so-called “free” society; it is not our job to pay the price for the budget cuts imposed on penal institutions. Although of course, they take pleasure in making us pay that price. As inmates, our precarity is even greater, due to the fact that we’re being held captive and maintained in a state of dependency. Yet, we know that our living conditions are directly connected to capitalism’s exploitation of the proletariat, predominantly
composed, on a global level, of people of colour, migrants and displaced people, and Indigenous peoples. Within these groups, women generally suffer the greatest insecurity. In this context prison is simply a way to manage populations which capitalism has deemed useless.
At Tanguay, the Montreal women’s prison, over the past five years our living conditions have deteriorated at an alarming pace. We are hungry: small portions and poor quality food cause malnutrition amongst those unable to pay for canteen in order to supplement their meals. We’re sick. The buildings are falling apart. Walls are being eaten away by mold. In some sections, sewage is backing up into the drinking water plumbing. Vermin breeds in the kitchen and in the cells. To top it all off, cleaning products are being diluted to the point that they lose their cleaning properties. They’re being rationed in such a way that it’s impossible to clean the area properly. Access to medical services has been reduced to a minimum. Delays in transferring prescribed medication endangers the lives of many inmates every day, under the indifferent eyes of the correctional officers. Those going through withdrawal, even in severe cases, are left to the care of other prisoners who must act as caregivers, despite their having no training, medical equipment or cleaning products, in an environment that’s already unsafe. It goes without saying that people needing care are frequently HIV or Hepatitis B positive. Besides one single ultrasound, pregnant women are provided with next to no prenatal care, nor are they provided with decent food. Miscarriages aren’t considered emergencies. Women who miscarry are not provided with medical care. We are treated in an inhuman manner.
Harsher sentencing, for example by abolishing the possibility of release after completing a sixth of your sentence, and stricter parole conditions have created a problem of overcrowding, which only makes things worse. We need to go through one month in the communal room before being able to share a cell that’s only big enough to squeeze in two mattresses, one of which being on the tiny space that is the floor. We live on top of one another; tensions are at an all-time high.
When we talk about budget cuts and deteriorating living conditions, we know what’s at stake. Does having committed an offense to the criminal code justify such treatment? Remember that most people in prison are incarcerated for crimes related to their precarious living conditions. We are not oblivious to major changes in the work conditions of the correctional officers themselves. These changes have direct negative impacts on how we’re treated. If things continue to deteriorate in this way, only time will tell how much prisoners will be willing to take before something gives.
What we want :
We want to add to the ongoing mobilization in order to maximize its chances to force the government to back down from implementing its anti-social policies. We want our demands for basic necessities to be recognized as being a matter of human dignity: food that meets our nutritional needs, accessible and adequate medical services, specific follow-up for pregnant women, care for people going through withdrawal, adequate provision of sanitary products. More social programmes, more classes that can lead to a job, access to therapy, help to become functional people: this is what most prisoners want, but can’t get because of the lack of available resources.
Join us on December 1st for a Vigil in solidarity with all prisoners !
At noon in front of the Montreal Courthouse (1, Notre-Dame East)