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Canada's prison watchdog says he's concerned the death rate at federal institutions is increasing.

Darrin Klimek/Getty Images

The federal correctional investigator says he is concerned about the number of deaths in federal prisons after three in Nova Scotia facilities in just over three months has added to the national total.

Howard Sapers made his comment Monday after learning a 63-year-old man died in his cell at Springhill Institution on Friday.

A news release from Springhill Institution says that Terrance Matchett, who was serving time for aggravated assault, was found unresponsive and staff were unable to revive him with CPR.

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The federal watchdog for prisons said he's reviewing the latest incident, as well as the death of 22-year-old Camille Strickland-Murphy, who committed suicide at the Nova Institution for women in Truro on July 28, and the death of 38-year-old Veronica Park, who died while in custody at the Nova Institution on April 24.

Mr. Sapers said in the first four months of 2015-16 there were 31 deaths across the country, while in all of the prior fiscal year there were 67 deaths.

"After the first four months of the year we're almost at 50 per cent of the deaths of all of last year," he said during an interview from his office in Ottawa.

"I'm concerned that if the trend continues we'll have a higher rate of death in custody than we did last year."

Mr. Sapers also said there have been five deaths in Atlantic Canada in the first four months of 2015-16, while there were seven deaths in the region in all of the prior year.

Mr. Sapers said his agency will also review the deaths of the female inmates, and he is awaiting the result of autopsies and will request more information from the facility.

Esther Mailhot, a spokeswoman for Correctional Service Canada, said she could not confirm the national or regional death figures because they were not readily available by late Monday evening.

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