COVID-19 update for correctional employees: September 4, 2020
This content is a message to Correctional Service Canada (CSC) staff from CSC's Commissioner.
This week, we welcome a new month. September marks a time of change for many families with a return to routines and children going back to school. However, this school year looks different for many families across the country. And with COVID-19 still among us, I know many of you may feel uneasy about some of the unknowns and how the fall will roll out.
The silver lining is that we have all done a lot of work to keep each other and those around us safe, both at work and in our personal lives. We learn new things about this virus everyday and what is important is that we stay up-to-date on the facts and remain responsive in how we manage through it. Correctional Service Canada (CSC) has put in place the right measures and are thinking through every operational decision with safety in mind. For several months now, there have been no inmate cases of COVID-19 in any of CSC's institutions. We know our efforts are making a difference. Please continue to do your part. Our individual actions contribute to the health and safety of those around us.
Here are the latest updates on various items.
Virtual workplace charitable campaign
This year, like so many other events, the Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign (GCWCC) will do a virtual national launch:
The launch will take place online on Thursday, September 10, from 1:00 pm to 1:45 pm (ET).
Register here by September 10, 10:00 am (ET).
The online event for public servants across the country will feature a variety of special guest speakers and talented public servant musicians. It will also feature video vignettes that showcase innovative ways that various departments have provided support to Canadians throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including CSC.
More than ever, charities across our country are in need of our support. Please consider donating during this year's campaign. Our CSC Champion is Larry Motiuk, Assistant Commissioner, Policy Sector. He will work with a campaign team to keep you updated on events, activities and opportunities to get involved.
Returning to the physical workplace
As mentioned in my previous notes, decisions related to changes related to your work situation are made on a case-by-case basis and based on the type of work you perform. There is no one-size fits all approach. In some cases, the job you perform can only be done on-site and in other cases, such as those working in an office, there may be more flexibility. Following discussions with your manager, you may have been identified as someone who has or is preparing to return to the physical workplace while others will continue to work from home for the time being. Our workforce is quite diverse and that is why it is necessary to continue talking to your manager about your circumstances and what is needed to ensure your continued productivity so you can best fulfill your duties.
One thing is certain, there will be no surprises and you will be provided with a formal notification at least two weeks in advance if your circumstances will change. Until then, please continue doing what you have been doing. CSC knows we cannot have everyone back in our offices the way it was before the pandemic hit and are finding the right balance.
As mentioned last week, there will be discussions rolling out within each sector/region over the coming weeks to provide an update and an opportunity to ask questions.
COVID-19 vaccine update
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been talk about a vaccine for the virus, both here in Canada and in other countries. Although many vaccines are in clinical trials or under development, no vaccines have yet been approved in Canada.
The Government of Canada is working to ensure a future supply of potential vaccines for Canadians.
An announcement was made on Monday stating that the Government of Canada has agreements in place with four pharmaceutical companies who are developing a COVID-19 vaccine and planning to procure doses of experimental COVID‑19 vaccines.
COVID-19 is here at a time where we will also see cases of the seasonal flu and common colds. Typically, the flu season runs from late fall to early spring. The Influenza vaccine will be available to inmates and CSC 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.
In the meantime, please continue to be vigilant in protecting ourselves and others by washing our hands, practicing physical distancing and wearing the appropriate PPE, including masks. It is also good to keep your immune system strong by continuing to do regular exercise, eating and sleeping well.
I wanted to provide you with an update on our work and continued conversations related to the important issue of systemic racism. It is essential that we all continue to work hard, as individuals and an organization, to talk about this and do more to ensure that our practices, policies and initiatives address the root causes of inequities and best support:
- Black people
- Indigenous peoples, and
- all members of racialized communities
On July 27, a communique to staff noted that I have struck a joint working group with the Chairperson of the Parole Board of Canada, Jennifer Oades, to look at diversity and racism within the federal corrections and conditional release system. CSC has three representatives on this working group. The group will start by identifying the policies and programs that are currently in place to specifically address the unique needs of racialized offenders. This group will also:
- review our policies and practices aimed at increasing the diversity of our employees
- identify gaps, and
- make recommendations on next steps.
CSC is also reviewing the assessment tools, to ensure there is no cultural bias, for the recruitment of:
- correctional officers
- programs officers, and
- parole officers
CSC also plans to meet with our National Ethnocultural Advisory Group this fall to discuss this issue and actions moving forward.
CSC is committed to making positive change and I will continue to keep everyone informed of progress made on this important issue.
Communication has been key throughout this pandemic and CSC continues to work hard to keep everyone informed. I communicate directly with all of you, inmates and stakeholders on a weekly basis. Lots of information is on our public website and on the Hub for ease of access and transparency. I hope you find it useful.
I would like to thank you for your diligence in taking all the health precautions necessary to keep yourself and everyone around you safe and healthy. I would also like to wish all of you a great long weekend!
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