COVID-19 update for correctional employees: August 28, 2020

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

It is hard to believe this is the last week of August. I know many of you are embracing these last few weeks of summer before getting back to fall routines. Below are this week’s updates.

Public Service Pride Week

This week, we are celebrating Public Service Pride Week. To show our support, we raised a virtual pride flag on our social media platforms this past Monday to kick off the week. Public Service Pride Week 2020 is an opportunity for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two-Spirit, Plus (LGBTQ2+) CSC employees to celebrate their identity, resilience and positive contributions to Canada’s public service. And as colleagues, we can all be purposeful in our actions as supportive, inclusive and respectful allies. Mental health and wellbeing is this year’s theme. This is timely as we continue our work to create a more inclusive, safe and respectful environment.

As public servants, we have a responsibility to learn from one another, grow together and further the public good. Take this opportunity to learn more by accessing these resources:

COVID-19 Update

Many of us have worked hard to implement public health recommendations and extensive prevention measures in our workplaces. The fact is, COVID-19 is still in our environment and we need to keep up with our good work to prevent its spread. I say this a lot but it is true that we all play a role in keeping each other safe.

I would like to stress that regardless of the number of positive COVID-19 cases in your community, it is essential that you always practice the infection prevention strategies that we have identified in the Risk Management Framework. These include maintaining a physical distance of at least two metres from others and continuing to wash or sanitize your hands several times a day. It is good to keep disinfecting your spaces (at work or at home) including high touch surfaces. A full list of public health measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 can be found here.

The Public Health Agency of Canada recently put out this information, which is helpful in assessing risks related to activities that you may undertake outside of work.

Like the rest of the world living through this pandemic, we are learning more about COVID-19 every day, including the latest science, which is guiding us as we adapt our plans. I wanted to note that throughout the pandemic, we continue to maintain:

We also track the number of employees that test positive for the virus. This information provides transparency in how we track and report on our situation across the country.

The workplace and communications

The Steering Committee that is looking at how we shape our new normal had discussions this week on communications and the need to continue supporting employees with concrete information related to your work situation (home/workplace/mix). We want to give you some reassurance so you know what to expect in the coming period. I recognize this can be stressful and we are working towards having each Sector Head and Regional Deputy Commissioner host discussions with their managers and sectors in September to check in and provide the latest information.

There is lots of written information circulating and that can be overwhelming. To complement this, it is also important to have an open dialogue with your management team and take the opportunity to ask questions. Check in with your manager frequently and keep the lines of communication open. There is a wealth of resources on the Hub and we continue to post more information every week. Please have a look.

Risk Management Framework and changing risk levels

I wanted to give you an update on our Risk Management Framework (RMF), which guides us in how we phase in activities and conduct operations. CSC, in close collaboration with our labour partners and in consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada, has been working tirelessly to develop and identify mitigation strategies to protect the health and safety of all staff, offenders and Canadians. This evolving framework is updated regularly based on experience, operational realities, and the best available public health advice. We have recently updated the risk levels and the process within the RMF to help provide more clarity.

Please keep in mind that the RMF currently focuses on operational environments and primarily on congregate living settings, such as institutions and Community Correctional Centres. Some mitigation strategies for community offices, where activities have restarted, have now been included. Future updates will be forthcoming once more activities resume. This will soon include information on administrative work sites.

Our Health Services Sector is constantly monitoring and analyzing public health data. It is important to remember that a case of COVID-19 in a community does not equal community transmission. When Health Services identifies that there are 10 incidence cases per week per 100 000 people in the local community (defined by public health authority boundaries), they collaborate directly with local public health authorities; and engage three committees: the Management Early Response Committee, the Health Operations Working group, and Local Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committees. Health Services has identified a communication tree to ensure that everyone who needs to know is informed of any changes to a facility’s risk level in the RMF.

Please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the process in the RMF and with the wealth of information about the transition on our Hub. Recently, information about risks levels of each site, links to public health authorities and travel advisories were added.

Flu season

Fall will soon be here, which also means the regular flu season is just around the corner. Typically, the flu season runs from late fall to early spring. The Influenza vaccine will be available to inmates and we will share more information about this in the coming weeks. Please check with your local public health-authority or health care provider to find out where and when you can get your flu shot. While there is no vaccine yet for COVID-19, it helps to be protected against other types of seasonal illnesses.

Parliament prorogued

As you may have heard, Parliament has been prorogued until September 23. This means all parliamentary activity, including all legislation and committee work, stops until the governor general announces a new session will begin. The government will then relaunch their agenda with a new Speech from the Throne.

Beyond 2020

Are you aware of Beyond 2020? It is the Public-Service wide commitment to focussing on mindsets and behaviours that build a more agile, innovative, more inclusive, and better equipped Public Service. This is important to us at CSC. The pandemic has highlighted how adept CSC is in advancing innovative projects. The Beyond 2020 team will be featuring teams and initiatives through stories and articles in This Week @ CSC and Let’s Talk Express. If you have a story about a CSC employee, team or group that has demonstrated being agile, inclusive and or equipped, I encourage you to share it with the Beyond2020 team.

Thank you for your continued hard work and dedication. It is very much appreciated. 

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