COVID-19 update for correctional employees: November 6, 2020

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

I want to start by thanking everyone for their continued hard work as we continue to manage through the pandemic, while also balancing other priorities. I appreciate your dedication and continued resiliency. Please remember to make time to maintain your personal wellness, and find ways to continue connecting with your colleagues.


As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in various communities across the country, please remember to follow the important health and safety measures in place, both at work and when you are out in the community. Continue to wash your hands or sanitize often, practice physically distancing, and please wear your mask.

Our daily actions, even small ones, have an impact on our safety and the safety of others. The best way to halt the spread of this virus is by limiting our in-person interactions. These situations not only pose a risk to yourself, but to your colleagues and the offenders in our care. Remember that "No one is protected until everyone is protected".

I encourage you to you regularly check the Hub to view the risk-level associated with our sites and to regularly consult the Integrated Risk Management Framework to follow the up-to-date measures that are in place to limit the transmission of COVID-19 in our workplaces. Also, consider downloading the COVID Alert app as it can be a useful tool to help with early detection. When it first came out, I downloaded it on my phone. It is a useful tool.

National Comprehensive Strategy on Workplace Wellness

I want you to know that support for our employees' well-being is very important at CSC. And it is important to me. I am pleased to launch our National Comprehensive Strategy on Workplace Wellness.

This strategy will serve as our foundation for prioritizing activities crucial to the respect, well-being, health, and mental health of employees and managers at all levels. We are committed to ensuring the workplace is a safe, respectful, and supportive environment for all employees. I encourage everyone to read the strategy, and to reflect and act upon ways you can contribute to our organization's wellness while modeling respect and inclusion, and embracing diversity.

As Diversity Week comes to an end, I hope you took the opportunity to participate in some of the virtual events showcased across the country. I encourage you to continue building an environment year-round where everyone can thrive and excel.

Addressing systemic racism

On Monday, during the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, Minister Blair provided an update on his mandate letter, including his accountabilities related to CSC. He touched on the importance of addressing systemic racism within the Public Safety portfolio. This is an issue that we have been working on at multiple levels. I issued a public statement on social media last week on our commitment to address systemic racism and make improvements to the federal correctional system.

We have done important work over the summer and fall to look at everything we do. We convened a joint working group with the PBC and will now be consulting our stakeholders to inform our plans and actions moving forward. I think this is important work - for our employees, offenders and the Canadians we serve. I will keep you posted on our progress.

Other Leave with Pay (699)

These past months, many of our employees have been balancing the care they provide to family members who are at home or are in need of support because of the COVID-19 and the restrictions in place with their work life. I am pleased to share with you the updated guidance that has been developed for 'Other Leave With Pay (699)' that will take effect on November 9, 2020.

To better understand how 699 leave applies, a series of frequently asked questions was recently shared. Please also remember that services and supports are available to you, such as the Employee Assistance Program. You can also find many valuable tips and resources on the website.

Update on CSC network

I wanted to let you know that we will be restoring our Internet access to the same level as was in place before the pandemic. This means that, among other services, you will be able to access social media for business purposes.

When COVID-19 first hit, we needed the bandwidth for essential business activities. We have since worked with Shared Services Canada to make improvements and increase our network's capacity. A fulsome network assessment is being conducted over the next few weeks that will help identify how we can best continue to improve and redesign our network infrastructure for current and future business needs. We will be monitoring the performance very closely and ask you to be mindful of use, given social media takes a good deal of bandwidth. Depending on how the network responds to this increase in traffic, we may need to make further adjustments, such as looking at what additional controls may need to be in place.

International Volunteer Managers' Day

We marked International Volunteer Managers' Day on November 5, and I would like to thank staff at the regional and local levels, our social program officers, our community volunteer coordinators, chaplains and so many others who contribute to the management of volunteers. Your input and leadership in redefining volunteering during the pandemic has not gone unnoticed. There is no innovation too small. The work you do is essential in helping offenders in our care become law-abiding citizens.


I know may of you have already made a donation to the Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign (GCWCC). If you haven't had the opportunity to do so yet, e-pledges are an easy way to give. You can also bid on one of the amazing art pieces in the online auction, from November 23 to December 4. I donated a dreamcatcher and a beautiful pair of mitts from CORCAN. We will send the link as soon as the auction is live. Thank you to those of you who participated in the 5k Walk Run Roll event and helped raise $38,155 for HealthPartners and United Way Centraide.

Veterans Week

Veterans' Week, from November 5 to 11, is a time for Canadians to honour those who have served our country, past and present, in times of war, military conflict, and peace. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. More than one million Canadians took part in that war, and over 45,000 died.

I encourage you to take a few minutes and visit Veterans Affairs Canada Veterans' Week web feature. It provides a one-stop location for Veterans' Week activities, including access to learning materials. The Faces of Freedom podcast tells the stories of those who served in a variety of battles during the Second World War, or those who remember them. Their faces tell the story, and their legacy will live on. The Heroes Remember interviews are also very interesting. Visit the online calendar of Veterans' Week events.

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