SASKATOON -- The Saskatoon Correctional Centre will soon have a new remand centre at a cost of $120 million dollars.

The government says announcement is part of the recently announced $7.5 billion two-year capital plan.

“This expansion represents a significant step forward in our ability to provide a safe environment for remanded individuals. Combined with our existing remand strategies and programming, it will provide more space to successfully manage the population of offenders and accused in our correctional system,” said Christine Tell, Minister of Corrections and Policing.

The government says the remand centre will ensure that high-risk accused, such as rival gang members can be securely kept in custody and segregated to ensure the safety of the staff and offenders.

“The staff were working under extremely difficult and challenging circumstances,” added Tell.

Right now the correctional centre has 507 beds. Currently, it is at a 90% capacity with 458 offenders and accused. The new remand centre will be able to hold an additional 427 people with 216 additional cells.

Shawn Fraser, the CEO of the John Howard Society Saskatchewan says the $120-million could be spent better and help people before they end up in the correctional centre.

“There’s no problem in spending capital funds but this seems ridiculous to me. The most expensive way to deal with our social problems is through more prisons,” said Fraser. “Just as a taxpayer its frustrating because there is better ways we can spend investments like this. If we saw this scale of investment in homelessness and addictions, I think we would actually get to some of those root causes that cause those crimes in the first place,” added Fraser.

The NDP opposition also has many concerns.

“Let’s be clear who this building is for. It will be for individuals who have not been convicted, who have not been sentenced of an offence,” said Nicole Sarauer, NDP MLA. “The Sask. Party has failed for the past several years for addressing the high rates we have. They should be looking at addressing issues related to housing, related to mental health and addictions and reassessing why they decided to cut successful anti-gain initiatives over the past 10 years,” said Sarauer.

The government estimates the expansion will also create 130 full-time jobs as well as 600 temporary full-time jobs during construction.

The design phase for the remand centre will begin this summer with plans of construction starting in 2021.