COVID-19 update for correctional employees: May 12, 2020

This content is a message to Correctional Service Canada (CSC) staff from CSC's Commissioner.

I hope you all had a great weekend and took time to celebrate Mother’s Day. Thank you to all of the amazing, hard-working mothers in our organization, and to all those who have helped to shape our lives.

I have a few updates for you this week on a variety of subjects. My last note was about shaping the new normal and learning from our lessons over the past two months as we worked through this public health crisis. I hope you had a chance to read it and reflect on what it means to each of you in your specific roles.

National Nursing Week

This week is National Nursing Week. It is a wonderful opportunity to express gratitude to CSC’s more than 900 nurses who are working tirelessly to ensure our institutions and communities are safe during these unprecedented times.

I would like to thank all of our nurses and health care professionals for their exceptional work in providing ongoing medical care to offenders during these challenging times and throughout the year. Whether providing prevention education, palliative care, addressing trauma, managing infectious diseases, or administering harm reductions measures, your ongoing commitment and expertise is commendable. I appreciate all of you and your hard work. Thank you!

Let us all take the time to show our appreciation to nurses across the country, either in person or on our social media channels.

New transition working group

Today, the new working group tasked with looking at issues related to shaping our new normal had its first meeting. The group discussed principles that will guide its work and the different phases that will go into a plan for CSC.

The working group draws on expertise from across the organization and union partners to come up with a plan that ensures we:

I want to reiterate that we will adopt a gradual approach to resuming any activities. The health and safety of our employees and offenders, and everyone’s families, remains a top priority and the timeline of when that will happen will likely vary across the country, based on provincial and local circumstances and public health advice.

Please continue operating the same way you have been while we work to make decisions that will guide CSC’s path forward. We will ask for your input along the way.

Update on COVID-19

Thankfully, we are starting to turn a corner as we see many of those that had COVID-19 making a full recovery. For our employees, out of 123 who tested positive since the beginning of the pandemic, 87 (or over 70%) have now fully recovered. My thoughts and warm wishes are with those who are recovering.

To date, there are 118 active COVID-19 cases among inmates at three of our 43 institutions, in Quebec and British Columbia. This means that out of 333 positive tests since the beginning of this pandemic, 213 inmates have now fully recovered.

Your health and safety remain our top priority. We have put in place enhanced cleaning protocols, including disinfecting common areas and high-contact surfaces. In addition, we continue to actively screen anyone that must enter our institutions or community offices.

An emerging body of evidence suggests that asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals may transmit COVID-19. That is why CSC has provided masks to all staff and inmates, in order to protect them from individuals who may unknowingly have, and transmit, COVID-19.

Please know that we continuously evaluate our practices and protocols, and engage public health and infection prevention and control experts to guide our response and see what we can do better.

Community operations

We often talk about institutions because we manage the health care response for inmates. We cannot forget about the CSC staff in the community who have continued to supervise and manage offenders to keep our communities safe.

These have been unprecedented times and staff in communities across Canada have worked tirelessly to continue upholding public safety by implementing innovative ways to continue supervising offenders while implementing public health measures. A big shout out to our community-based employees for your great work! The job you do is critical to providing safe and successful reintegration support to offenders.

CSC is also working closely with its existing community-based residential facilities (CBRFs) partners across the country to work through any capacity pressures, in light of specific local realities and public health measures. We continue to work hard to ensure that offenders released into the community have a safe and supportive environment to go to, which is a key part of their successful reintegration. Thank you to all of our teams in the community.

Key changes to corporate deadlines

During this time, we have postponed many corporate deadlines and modified some normal procedures.

Please consult the new section on the Hub to find out more. New information is added regularly.

Changes in dates to schedule vacation leave for the summer leave period

Given the uncertainty that exists due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in accordance with Article 34.05 (ii) of the Program and Administrative Services (PA) collective agreement, the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada have agreed to alter the dates for the submission of leave requests.

This includes temporarily extending the deadline for employees to submit their annual leave requests for the summer leave period to May 15, 2020 and the Employer’s deadline to respond to such requests to June 1, 2020. If you have any questions about collective agreements, I encourage you to raise them with your union representative, or speak with your manager. If you are a manager and have questions, please contact your labour relations advisor.

Hope springs

Despite a cooler and snowy beginning to the Spring, I hope you are taking time out for yourself and connecting with friends, family and your support networks. This connection is key to talking things through and remaining optimistic for the future.

Last week we celebrated Mental Health Week, which provided an opportunity to reflect on where you are at and how you and your family are coping, and what makes you hopeful. These are difficult times and we all experience things in our own way. Check in with others, with yourself, and try to find the positive in each situation. Your work and efforts contribute to a larger purpose, one that keeps Canadians safe and one that provides hope and help to others. We are all in this together.

Thank you, once again, and have a great week.

For up-to-date information about COVID-19, visit:

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