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

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

June provides many opportunities to celebrate values important to us as individuals, Correctional Service Canada (CSC) employees and as public servants. Next week, we celebrate National Public Service Week. This year’s theme is Proudly serving Canadians. It is an opportunity to reflect and share what makes you proud as a public servant.

Shaping the new normal: Resumption of group programming

Programming is critical to the work we do to rehabilitate offenders and ensure they return to communities as law-abiding, contributing members of society. We are working towards having group programming for offenders resume in certain institutions across the country. We are looking at locations where there is no community transmission of COVID-19, as determined by public health. We are also working to implement appropriate measures to be able to do this safely. I expect to be in a position to provide more details in my next note. Any staff involved in this work will be provided with at least two weeks notice prior to the resumption of any activities.

The working groups are continuing to meet regularly to make recommendations on how we shape our new normal. Throughout this process, employees, unions and stakeholders continue to be engaged.

Government funding announcement for National Voluntary Organizations

On June 9, Minister Blair announced the Government’s intention to provide up to $500,000 to five National Voluntary Organizations (NVOs) to develop pilot projects that will help reintegrate offenders being supervised at community-based residential facilities (CBRFs).

Our CBRF partners are critical to the work we do in successfully rehabilitating offenders. These funds will go towards supporting our partners at the Association des services de réhabilitation sociale du Québec, Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, John Howard Society of Canada, National Associations Active in Criminal Justice, and St. Leonard’s Society of Canada. Since the beginning of the pandemic, these organizations have been working hard to manage and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in their facilities. Their successes and challenges will help them to identify and implement innovative practices and pilot projects that will assist in efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, while also maintaining essential services.

Current events and anti-racism protests

Current events, racist actions and protests around the world have been on our minds in past weeks. Prejudice, discrimination, and violence is a reality for far too many people. They are the result of systems that normalize and perpetuate inequality and injustice. Racism divides communities, breeds fear and fuels animosity. Canada is not immune to racism and discrimination.

It is not enough to say we value diversity or to speak about inclusion in general terms. We have an obligation to work hard, and actively, to listen and to learn from all members of racialized communities, religious minorities and Indigenous Peoples who may be experiencing situations of racism, discrimination or hate. By doing this, we show leadership in creating an environment that is conducive to inclusion and discussion.

I want to be clear that racism and discrimination have absolutely no place in our society, inside or outside of our workplace. We condemn all racist and discriminatory practices. We are all defined by our conduct both at work, on social media and in our personal lives, and our organization will not tolerate racist or discriminatory behaviour. We must all do our part.

More than ever, this is a time to lead by example and be respectful and inclusive in everything we do. This means upholding:

We have worked hard as an organization to develop a culture of respect and acceptance where everyone feels safe, but we know there is more to do. While I am proud of the professionalism and integrity you demonstrate, we all have a responsibility to continually reflect on whether our words and actions express bias, consciously or unconsciously.

We promote belonging and inclusiveness in an environment where individuals with diverse backgrounds and talents can excel, and where we respect everyone equally. We need to make everyday choices that take a stand against racism and discrimination in all of its forms.

If you have been affected by recent events and require support, remember you can reach out to an EAP referral agent or CISM peer at any time, as well as the EAP counselling services. 

Kudos Corner

I want to share with you some uplifting stories. Here at CSC, we are lucky to have incredible staff that go above and beyond their regular duties.

In Monday’s Kudos Corner, we highlighted Marilyn Stone, Saskatchewan Penitentiary Librarian, who worked alongside volunteers from the community, as well as inmates at Saskatchewan Penitentiary, to sew non-medical masks for staff and inmates at the institution. You can also read about a wonderful initiative started by the Prairie Region chiefs of education and teachers to express gratitude to our front-line staff.

It is Indigenous History Month. I recently read a moving story by William Chippeway who is a CSC Indigenous Community Liaison Officer. He describes the discrimination he experienced during the 1967 Pan American games, as well as the hardships he has faced as a survivor of residential schools. I encourage everyone to read Mr. Chippeway’s story. I am thankful he shared his story, it shows us how strength and resilience can help us overcome adversity. It also highlights the importance of support networks.

COVID-19 Update

Thanks to the dedication and perseverance of CSC staff, we only have one remaining active inmate COVID-19 case in our institutions. If there are no new cases, we will be outbreak free on June 16. While this is great news, we need to continue diligently applying our health and safety measures at work to prevent spread of the virus.

This pandemic has tested us in so many ways. It has challenged us both as an organization and as individuals. However, I do believe it has had its silver linings. It has shown us the true strength of our employees and the importance of staying connected and working together. I am grateful for all of your hard work.


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