An Ottawa lawyer is calling out Bell Canada for reaping the PR benefits of its mental health campaign Bell Let’s Talk while profiting from some of Ontario’s most vulnerable people.

That’s because the telecommunications giant has an exclusive contract to provide phone services for inmates in provincial jails. Michael Spratt says those calls are restrictively expensive and difficult, preventing inmates, who are often mentally ill, from talking to their counsellors, families or broader support systems.

Spratt also obtained documents in 2017 that show the provincial government gets a commission from every collect call made from provincial jails.

A spokeswoman with the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General said in an email that the province is working on a procurement process for a “new, modern inmate telephone system” that will give inmates access to “reasonable rates so they can maintain connections with family, lawyers, and with community organizations and agencies.”

A Bell spokesperson said the province set the terms of its contract, and rates for inmates are the same as for the general public.

Here is part of Spratt’s conversation with As It Happens host Carol Off.

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Read the full article: CBC

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