COVID-19 update for correctional employees: October 2, 2020

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

It is hard to believe it is already October. Fall is a beautiful time of year and I hope that you are enjoying the season.

For months now, we have been working on how to safely reinstate some of our key activities and programs. Many of you have been working hard on this at different levels of the organization. We are in a good state of readiness, with plans and mitigation strategies in place. We are collaborating closely with our labour partners and stakeholders and all of our decisions are guided by our Integrated Risk Management Framework (IRMF). We continue to monitor the current public health situation closely and are ready to respond and adapt as the situation evolves. I want to thank you for your continued dedication and hard work.

Tragic death in Quebec

Many of us have heard about the tragic death of Joyce Echaquan, at a hospital in Joliette, earlier this week. I know many of us were deeply shaken by the situation. Ms. Echaquan was an Indigenous woman and a mother of seven who self-recorded a video of her treatment while seeking medical care. While this incident is not linked to CSC, it is a good reminder about the importance of respectful behaviour. There is simply no place for racist or discriminatory comments in our society and it is important that we call out these behaviours – they are unacceptable. As I often say, there is no greater responsibility than having the care of other human beings, and as role models, we must carry out this responsibility with the highest level of integrity and professionalism. Remember to treat others the way you would like to be treated.

Quebec Region affected by rising COVID cases

In recent weeks, community transmission rates of COVID-19 in Quebec have risen and the Government of Quebec updated its public health guidelines, which include limiting travel between different communities. In response, on September 26, 2020, we suspended visits at all of our institutions and Community Correctional Centres in Quebec. We also suspended temporary absences, unless for medical or compassionate reasons, and work releases from institutions. We are working closely with public health and we will reassess these measures on a regular basis. For more information, visit the Hub.

While these additional measures do not currently affect our operations in other regions, we are monitoring the situation closely and are prepared to take additional actions, as needed.

This is a reminder that we must remain diligent in applying public health measures to assist in preventing the spread of the virus in our workplaces. It means keeping our social circles small; maintaining a physical distance of two metres; practicing good handwashing hygiene; wearing a non-medical mask in public and when you cannot maintain physical distance of at least 2 meters. Your health, and the health of our communities, depends on it.


Training and recertification goals are important components of your job and career development. In light of this, we are restarting critical training where it is safe to do so. Next week, I will provide you with an update on the training that will be offered.

Orange Shirt Day

This past Wednesday, September 30, was Orange Shirt Day. It is a day of reflection that was inspired by Phyllis Webstad who wore a new orange shirt on her first day of attendance at a residential school. Her shirt was taken away and never returned. Orange shirts are worn as a reminder of the lasting trauma endured by First Nations, Inuit and Métis children at residential schools.

In the spirit of reconciliation, I wore orange and I know many of did as well. I reflected on the remarkable achievements and resilience of Indigenous Peoples in this country. I am proud to have 1,668 outstanding, self-declared Indigenous employees at CSC and approximately 140 Elders who represent Indigenous communities from coast to coast to coast. They are vital in helping those in our care and custody reconnect with their culture and their communities.

In recognition of Orange Shirt Day, we published a story on the Hub that I encourage you to read about an offender from Bath Institution who participated in a Cedar Water Ceremony.

Collins Bay farm news

At the beginning of September, I shared that the first calf, Olive, was born on the farm at Collins Bay Institution. Since then, we have had three more additions to the herd: two bull calves – named Popeye and Brutus – and a second Holstein heifer calf named Sweet Pea. I enjoy the news from the farm and the names chosen by staff and offenders.

Keep on taking care of yourself and one another as we continue to navigate these unprecedented times.

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