SASKATOON -- A Saskatchewan Penitentiary prisoner says he and other inmates in his unit are afraid they’re not going to go home to their families.

That’s what Bronson Gordon said on a recorded phone call with Beyond Prison Walls Canada advocate Sherri Maier. Maier shared the phone call with CTV News.

The Saskatchewan prison is dealing with an outbreak of COVID-19, and Bronson said he only gets about 30 minutes out his cell every second day to update his loved ones over the phone.

“What’s happening to us is inhumane,” he said, adding he feels like a caged animal. “All these people here are suffering; they’re suffering in their cells.”

Maier said some inmates who tested positive for COVID-19 are still in their units, and other prisoners are barely allowed out of their cells. She said inmates in one unit are protesting until all positive cases are transferred to an isolated area.

"Is this going to be the new way of life for them? That's what many are worrying about. Are they going to be stuck in there all the time for this long? It's going to deteriorate their mental health,” Maier said.

James Bloomfield, regional president for the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, said 64 inmates and five staff members have tested positive for the virus as of Monday morning. The outbreak in the medium-security unit, which holds the majority of the inmates, was declared on Dec. 12.

Bloomfield said positive cases are transferred to a different area with separate staff when possible. He said in rare occurrences, they must stay in their unit.

"As you can imagine in a prison population, there's a lot of people who cannot mix, so we don't want to be victimizing people as well,” he said.

The outbreak has also been stressful for staff, he said. 

“When you have a situation like this when there’s restrictions of movement and stuff like that, it really comes back to, the people who open that door have got to deal with everything, and those officers right now are stretched to the limit.”

Bloomfield said a group of correctional officers at the site have received a public health order to self-isolate until Dec. 27. He said throughout the pandemic, staff have confided in their families for support, and now they won’t be able to see people in their households for Christmas.

In an emailed statement, Correctional Service Canada (CSC) said the Saskatchewan Health Authority issued a public health order to all staff at Sask. Pen.

It’s unclear how the isolation orders will impact operations at Sask. Pen, Bloomfield said, adding the union is asking the federal government for additional COVID-19 pay.

“We recognize that managing through this pandemic has also been difficult for our inmate population and we continue to provide them with updates as the situation evolves, including weekly updates directly from the Commissioner,” reads the CSC’s statement.

“These are also posted on our website for their families to see. The ongoing cooperation of inmates in keeping up with our infection prevention and control measures has been key in helping us reduce spread of the virus.”

With limited access to the phone, video and in-person visits suspended, families of inmates said they’re rarely able to reach their loved ones. This includes Shauna Gordon, Bronson’s sister.

“We are really close and not having those phone calls, it’s heartbreaking,” she said. “A lot of people are really worried about Bronson’s well-being and the other people that are there as well.”

In a letter to the Office of the Correctional Investigator, the ombudsman for federally sentenced offenders, Maier said inmates told her they were unable to get cleaning supplies before the outbreak occurred. She said they didn’t have hand soap and hardly any hot water.