COVID-19 update for correctional employees: October 16, 2020

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

I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving weekend. Depending on the nature of your job, some of you may have had an opportunity to take a break while others had to work on the long weekend. Our job in upholding public safety continues 24/7 and it is important to think about colleagues who work with offenders year round, including holidays. I appreciate all of you and recognize the contribution that each of you make.

This year, given public health restrictions on gatherings in many areas, we found other ways to connect with our loved ones. It is so important to support each other and make a point of reaching out to others and checking in.

Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign (GCWCC)

Last weekend, ThanksGIVING was a good opportunity to express our gratitude for the many positive things in our lives. Please consider sending in an e-pledge. Every contribution counts.

A good way to maintain our mental and physical health during the pandemic is to exercise. I encourage you to sign up for the virtual 5k Walk/Run/Roll event, which is from October 22 to 25. The best part about having virtual events is that you can participate anytime and from anywhere across the country. There is a small fee to participate in this event, which will help move us towards our fundraising goal of $80,000. Consider signing up as a team. I challenge you to a friendly competition against other CSC teams! You can share your progress on social media using the hashtag #GCWCC2020 and tag co-workers that you want to challenge to join. Let's do this, team CSC.

Mid-year performance management reviews

I wanted to remind you that we are heading into mid-year performance management reviews. Over the next few weeks, you should be meeting with your manager to discuss your work goals and performance. It is a good time to look at your learning plan and identify anything that may help you meet your objectives, in discussion with your manager. We have also reintroduced key training at CSC, using a mix of in-person and online delivery. You can get more information on the Hub. Please also check out the course offerings at the Canada School of Public Service. There are more and more online resources and training options available to you.

National EAP-CISM Day

This past weekend, on October 10, we recognized World Mental Health Day and October 14 was National EAP-CISM Day. Many of you perform challenging roles and it is important for you to know that there are people and services in place to support you. Your wellness and mental wellbeing are not only important, they are vital. Whether you are experiencing personal or work-related challenges, consider reaching out to our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) services. EAP and CISM managers are working on projects that will increase the support offered to employees, especially during this particularly challenging time. It is so important to take care of yourself and seek assistance if you need it.

Conflict Resolution Day

October 15 was international Conflict Resolution Day. This year's theme, Power of Dialogue: Working Towards Mutual Understanding, is an important reminder to resolve interpersonal and organizational issues in a healthy, productive and respectful manner. CSC's Office of Conflict Management has consultants in all regions to help employees prevent, manage, and resolve workplace conflict. Good communication is important to every relationship and we owe it to each other to be mindful of our words and actions at work.

Persons Day

In the context of Women's History Month, I wanted to highlight Persons Day is on October 18. The day celebrates the 1929 landmark ruling when Canada's Highest Court of Appeal ruled that women were included in the legal definition of 'persons.' This gave women rights to be appointed to the Senate, hold public office, and, ultimately, participate equally in all aspects of life in Canada.

While there is always more work to do to achieve better equity, I am proud of the progress that we have made at CSC in terms of inclusion and diversity, including more women in leadership positions. We are stronger when our workforce better represents the Canadians we serve.

Diversity and Inclusion Conference

A Diversity and Inclusion Conference, open to all public servants, is taking place from October 27 to 29. In three 90-minute sessions, the program intends to stimulate action through a forward-thinking discussion on how to apply a diversity and inclusion lens in government policies and programs. It also provides an opportunity to hear from inspiring leaders, academics and community experts on ways to adopt a more inclusive mindset. This is very topical given our discussions on systemic racism and the need for more inclusive workplaces. You can register online today.

COVID-19 Update

With COVID-19 cases on the rise in many communities, I know that this is top of mind for many of you both personally and professionally. I also know that it can be stressful with kids back in school and daycare, or aging parents needing your support. You may have questions on CSC's plans and preparedness for a second wave and on any impacts to your work moving forward.

I want you to know that everyone's health and safety continue to be our priority and we are well prepared in all of our workplaces. The current situation continues to evolve and we are monitoring things carefully. We have a structured process in place, developed in collaboration with labour partners and stakeholders, and are ready to take additional targeted measures, as needed.

Regional Deputy Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners recently held discussions with their teams to help answer your questions and provide an update on how we are shaping our new normal. I hope these discussions were helpful. I encourage you to speak with your manager if you have additional questions about how the Integrated Risk Management Framework works in guiding us to make operational decisions that best protect the health and safety of our employees, offenders and the public. There is also lots of information and resources available on the Hub.

Late last week, the Quebec government announced that it has designated some areas as red - the highest level in their COVID-19 provincial alert system. We are monitoring the situation closely and as previously noted, have suspended visits and taken other additional measures at our sites in Quebec. We continue to reevaluate this regularly. We are working to help to keep everyone safe by reducing the risk of introducing the virus into our sites.

I know I say this often but we all have a part to play in reducing spread. Please continue to follow the public health guidelines to prevent yourself, your family, colleagues, and offenders from getting this contagious virus. Please continue to be diligent about washing or sanitizing your hands often. Keep physical distancing and please wear your mask. In our workplaces, we must all lead by example - these layers of protection are part of our new normal.

I continue to be impressed and appreciative of your hard work, dedication, and commitment. Thank you for the work you do each and every day in support of our mandate. 

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