COVID-19 update for correctional employees: November 13, 2020
This content is a message to Correctional Service Canada (CSC) staff from CSC's Commissioner.
During Veterans' Week, which came to an end this past Wednesday, we paused and took time to remember and honour those who have served Canada, past and present, in times of war, military conflict and peace. Like many other events this year, we were encouraged to participate in Remembrance Day ceremonies remotely. I watched the one in Ottawa and coverage from across the country. I hope you also took the opportunity to think about the tremendous sacrifices of our veterans and service members, and their families, to keep Canada a free and democratic nation.
Restorative Justice Week
Restorative Justice (RJ) Week is taking place from November 15 to the 22. This year's theme is Inspiring Innovation. RJ is a non-adversarial, non-retributive approach to justice that emphasizes healing for victims and accountability for offenders to create healthier, safer communities. The goal is to reach meaningful and fair outcomes through inclusion, open communication, and truth. CSC receives around 150 referrals to the program annually, which is run out of the Communications and Engagement Sector. Since the program began, we have received 867 victim referrals and 1,576 institutional referrals requesting victim-offender mediation services.
During RJ week, take time to reflect on the values and principles of restorative justice and how they can be applied to our work. Thank you to everyone involved in helping to support the work of CSC's Restorative Opportunities program. The website contains many useful resources.
The Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign (GCWCC) is in full swing. Thank you to the CSC employees who have contributed so far. If you have not had the chance to make a donation, it is not too late. It only takes a few minute to make an e-pledge. I made my contribution this week. The process allows you to select charities that are meaningful to you and decide where you want your donations to go. Your gift goes a long way in supporting those in our communities who need our help. Please consider giving.
Community transmission rates have continued to increase in many areas across the country. We recently had a few inmates test positive for COVID-19 in three of our institutions: Drummond, Stony Mountain and Edmonton Institution for Women. These are the first cases among inmates that CSC has seen in five months and we are working hard to contain the virus to prevent any further spread. The 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. I know that some of our employees are also recovering from contracting the virus - I think about our employees often and wish those affected a speedy recovery.
I want you to know that everyone's health and safety continue to be our priority and we must remain diligent in applying our health measures and protocols. More than ever, it is essential that you do not let your guard down. Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, recently said: "No one is protected until everyone is protected." This rings true as we all have an active role to play.
As employees, we have a responsibility to ensure that we are taking every precaution to avoid introducing the virus into our workplaces. Keep on washing or sanitizing your hands often, practice physical distancing, and wear your mask properly. These layers of protection can really make a difference. Avoid crowds and gatherings, and keep your social circle small. Also, consider downloading the COVID Alert app as it can be a useful tool to help with early detection. I have downloaded it myself and have it handy on my phone.
Testing is an important way to know who has the virus. CSC is working with its partners to offer mass testing at many locations. If you are offered a test, please take it. It will help give you and your loved ones peace of mind. It is simple and quick. We have learned a lot about the virus, and the earlier that someone is diagnosed, the easier it is to contain it and protect those around you. It is important that staff at institutions help inmates understand the benefits of being tested as well. Testing information is key to helping us take the appropriate actions to support everyone's health and safety, especially in closed living environments.
Our Integrated Risk Management Framework was developed to clearly define how we can conduct business in all of our correctional facilities. Each risk level allows for different levels of response depending on the assessed level of risk of COVID-19 transmission in a community. The framework identifies correctional activities and mitigation strategies for each risk level to protect staff, offenders, and the public. We have posted charts on the Hub that show the risk levels for CSC's institutions, as well as for the administrative sites. Please stay informed on how these apply to your work site.
CSC Respect Day
CSC Respect Day is coming up on November 20. It is an opportunity for us all to reflect on the role we each play in creating a respectful workplace and affecting positive change. It is also a chance for all of us to take pride in being part of a diverse organization made up of exceptional people. In the week that leads up to this important day, I encourage all of you to continue building a culture where there is no place for inappropriate behaviours and where we work together to instill more respect, inclusion, diversity and equity within our organization.
Thank you for taking all the steps you can to protect yourself during this pandemic. We all have a duty to do what we can to keep our families, our colleagues, inmates, and the public safe.
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