COVID-19 update for correctional employees: October 23, 2020

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

In my last few messages, I mentioned a number of national accomplishments that we commemorated in October as part of Women's History Month. This week, I wanted to highlight that CSC has established a Working Group for Women. As promoted in This Week at CSC, employees from different classifications, levels, and work locations were recently invited to join this group to discuss the barriers women face. Thank you, in advance, for contributing your experience and ideas to this group and working to make a difference for all women at CSC.

Canadian Patient Safety Week

This month, we also mark Canadian Patient Safety Week (October 26 to 30), which raises awareness about the importance of improving patient safety and quality care, and having a health-care system that is accountable to those it serves. This is important to CSC, as we provide essential health care to offenders. We undergo a rigorous accreditation process to ensure the health care we provide meets professional standards. This includes assessing patient safety, ethics, staff training, and mental and physical health care. Being accredited demonstrates our commitment to providing safe and quality health care to offenders as we work to fulfill our mandate.

In this unprecedented time, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Health Services staff across the country for their hard work, commitment, and perseverance as we manage through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Process related to COVID-19

I mentioned last week that CSC's Health Services keeps a close watch on COVID-19 transmission levels in communities across the country. Over the past few weeks, we have seen the number of cases rising in some communities across Canada, so I wanted to explain CSC's process and how it works.

We closely monitor community transmission of COVID-19 in each region, and when a community is at, or above, 10 incident cases per 100,000 people per week, CSC's Assistant Commissioner Health Services (ACHS) convenes a Management Early Response Committee (MERC) meeting. These meetings, which involve management teams in those regions, discuss which additional measures are needed to best prevent the entry of COVID-19 into a CSC facility. When the caution threshold is met in our Integrated Risk Management Framework, CSC also engages with local public health authorities to understand the epidemiology (who, what, where) of community transmission. This collaboration allows us to respond appropriately in order to protect all of you, offenders, and the public, while continuing to deliver on our public safety mandate.

In addition to the MERC, CSC has also been holding Emergency Operations Committee (EOC) meetings since the start of the pandemic, in response to a positive COVID-19 test result of an employee or an offender at an institution or Community Correctional Centre (CCC). The purpose of these meetings is to prevent and contain the transmission of COVID-19 through contact tracing and additional testing, as needed. At CSC, an outbreak is defined as one laboratory-confirmed case for which the transmission of the virus is believed to have occurred within the facility. The EOC will then continue to meet until any potential outbreak is declared over. We also work closely with local health and safety committees.

If you are contacted by one of CSC's contact tracers, it is important that you provide all relevant information in order to protect your colleagues and loved ones. And if you are offered a test, please take it. Testing provides information that allows us to take the appropriate actions to keep everyone safe.

I know this may be a stressful time for many of you. I want you to know that we continue to work closely with public health experts and our labour partners to develop mitigation strategies that put your health and safety first. As we learn more about COVID-19 and more research becomes available, we are continually updating our infection prevention and control measures. It is essential that all staff are carefully following all of the identified mitigation strategies all of the time to protect themselves, their families, and the workplace. We are all in this together.

COVID-19 Scenarios

We have developed and posted on the Hub a number of COVID-19 scenarios to provide guidance on what to do if you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, is symptomatic, or is awaiting test results. Also, please remember to let your manager know if you have symptoms; even if you experienced them while you were not at work.

Mental Health Roadmap

We have launched a Mental Health Roadmap on the Hub to help support managers during this time when people's needs are constantly evolving. You will find links, suggestions, and a wealth of resources and information available to help you successfully fulfill your role as a manager, and as I mentioned last week, remember to take care of your own wellbeing.

Electronic Monitoring

This month, CSC is replacing its 225 existing electronic monitoring devices with new ones. This major initiative is only possible thanks to the local community parole staff across the country - community parole officers and supervisors, and security intelligence officers. Their dedication is a testament to their professionalism and commitment to public safety.

Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign

Every year, I am proud that we support the Government of Canada's Charitable Campaign (GCWCC). Thanks to your generous donations, thousands of Canadians across the country are able to access food banks and emergency shelters, receive after-school care and tools to cope with disabling and life-threatening diseases. Some of these people have shared their stories on the GCWCC site. I encourage you to read them and consider making an e-pledge today.

Deputy heads were recently invited to take part in a national arts and culture auction as part of this year's Campaign. On behalf of our department, I have purchased items from CORCAN that I plan to donate. The auction will be online and will take place from November 23 to December 2. It will be open to all federal public servants and retirees across Canada. Proceeds will be shared between the GCWCC's two named recipients (HealthPartners and the United Way Centraide Canada). Amounts raised will count 50/50 toward the departmental campaign of the deputy who donated the art item and that of the winning bidder. More information will follow in November on how you can participate.

Thank you for everything you do and for your continued support and dedication. Have a good weekend!

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