COVID-19 update for correctional employees: March 30, 2020
This content is a message to Correctional Service Canada (CSC) staff from CSC's Commissioner.
As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, I want to assure you that CSC is focused on keeping staff safe and healthy, and providing you with updates as it applies to our work in corrections and public safety.
Please read the update below to find out what's new.
Information on COVID-19 Tests
I want to share with you that there are now both staff members and inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19. Today, we announced that two inmates at Port-Cartier Institution tested positive. In addition, nine staff members also at Port-Cartier Institution, two at Joliette Institution and one at Beaver Creek Institution Minimum have also tested positive.
My thoughts are with all of them and their families, and I wish them a swift recovery.
I would like to say that in all of the cases, everyone has acted quickly, and management immediately notified colleagues who may have had close contact and advised them to go home, self-monitor for symptoms and contact public health for direction.
We can assure you that all of the employees are in isolation at their homes and are following direction from local health officials.
The inmates are also in medical isolation and are being treated by our excellent health care staff.
We are also communicating with inmates and have been working closely with our union partners.
I understand the stress and concern this may cause for CSC employees, and more specifically, to staff and offenders located at these sites. As we face this challenge together, I remind you to remain vigilant, continue to practice good personal hygiene, and monitor your health to take appropriate steps and prevent any spread.
I am committed to keeping you informed of the progress we are making and the actions we are taking to address the COVID-19 challenge and keep our CSC sites safe. In keeping with this commitment, CSC is maintaining a chart of all COVID-19 inmate tests that have been administered in federal correctional institutions. The data we are tracking includes test results, as well as any pending results.
Temporary Public Service Health Care Plan changes
The Government of Canada has implemented temporary changes to the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP). These new measures are designed to help plan members and their eligible dependents access healthcare benefits, while at the same time, minimizing their social interaction with healthcare professionals. These efforts help to support social distancing.
In summary, these measures include:
- Extending travel emergency benefits;
- Relaxing the dispensing limit for maintenance medications and allowing pharmacists to exercise professional discretion with respect to dispensing medication sooner;
- Accepting claims for social workers as mental health professionals; and
- Removing the requirement for a prescription for mental health and physiotherapy services.
These temporary changes will be in effect until April 24, 2020, with the possibility extension. More information on these changes is available on canada.ca.
Expansion of CSC's Network Capacity
Our Information Management Services (IMS) team has been working tirelessly over the past number of days to help maximize our network capacity for virtual work. This has included configuring and deploying hundreds of laptops, with another thousand to be deployed over the coming days and weeks.
Through collaboration with our Shared Services Canada partners, we have successfully upgraded some of our core infrastructure to expand our bandwidth and increased our VPN capacity from 750 concurrent connections to approximately 4000. More work is underway to help us reach our optimal state of 10,000 connections. This will continue to be a priority for us in order to ensure that we are mobilizing our operations now and for the future.
Although we have successfully secured additional capacity, we still need your support in ensuring that all regions have the ability to connect during the interim period. In the meantime, we ask that you continue to respect the schedule that has been shared. This will help ensure that we continue to meet our critical operational needs.
Finance Year-end Changes
Year-end dates have shifted and have been shared with regional comptrollers. For goods and services received, year-end is still on March 31.
Should you have any questions, please contact your region's comptroller and in the case of NHQ sectors, please reach out to the Financial Operations team led by Bernard Emond. The Office of the Comptroller General is actively monitoring the COVID-19 situation and there is a possibility that further amendments to year-end processing deadlines will be forthcoming.
Communications is rolling up all key dates and changes into one handy document and we will share it later this week.
Employee Assistance Program Still Available
While network carriers are experiencing significant and unexpected demands on their network, the Employment Assistance Program (EAP) is still available and current call volumes are manageable. In fact, most calls can be answered with a "live voice" counsellor.
EAP has received reports of sporadic unconnected calls and "service unavailable" messages. While the network congestion may impact the ability to connect with EAP, EAP has indicated that this is not an indication of their capacity to answer calls. EAP is working with Shared Services Canada to ensure Health Canada's EAP's Crisis and Referral Center has enhanced priority with network providers.
If you need support, I encourage you to reach out to EAP. You can also contact Employee Assistance Services at 1-800-268-7708, which is a 24/7 number. The TTY number is 1-800-567-5803.
LifeSpeak for Support
Another resource to help you during this stressful time is LifeSpeak. This is a digital platform that you and your family can access anonymously through any computer, tablet or smartphone.
Once you sign in, you will find several videos and tips on various topics, including anxiety. You can also find additional material regarding COVID-19.
To access LifeSpeak, simply follow the next steps:
- Sign in at https://canada.lifespeak.com
- Chose the option "Access through group account"
- Enter your group account: Canada
- Select "Sign In"
- Select the arrow in the blue circle at the bottom right of your screen.
Your health and safety remains our top priority as we face this challenge together. We will continue to keep you informed.
For up-to-date information about COVID-19, visit:
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