COVID-19 update for correctional employees: December 4, 2020
This content is a message to Correctional Service Canada (CSC) staff from CSC's Commissioner.
Over the past months, you have made great efforts to adapt to new work environments and changes in how Correctional Service Canada (CSC) do things. This has not gone unnoticed and it is appreciated.
As we approach the holiday season, please be mindful to respect your local health authority's guidance on gatherings. I realize that this is difficult and there is nothing we want more than to get together and celebrate with our family and friends. We do; however, have a critical responsibility towards those in our care. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, gave clear direction in her message to all Canadians on December 2:
We need to limit close contacts to only those in our immediate household and reduce in-person interactions to only essential errands and activities, while consistently maintaining key public health practices."
Continue to wash or disinfect your hands, keep a two-metre distance as much as possible, and wear your masks.
I have been impressed by the innovative fundraising efforts happening across the country for the Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign (GCWCC). Sales of delicious homemade sweet and savoury products are helping boost online donations at Quebec Regional Headquarters. The Atlantic Region has been selling handmade non-medical cloth masks, something everyone uses these days.
The GCWCC wraps up on Tuesday, December 15, so there is less than two weeks left to make a donation by e-pledge, if you haven't yet. Thank you again for your generosity. It will help those in our communities who so desperately need it.
To highlight another act of kindness, the offenders in the Pacific Region's CORCAN have made and donated 91 scoodies. These hooded fleece wraps were provided to vulnerable men and women living on the streets in communities from Vancouver to Chilliwack to help them stay warm during the winter months.
International Volunteer Day
In the spirit of giving, on December 5 we mark International Volunteer Day. This is an occasion to celebrate the contributions of thousands of Canadians who give their time to work with those in our care and custody. Despite the significant impact of the pandemic on volunteering in our institutions and community parole offices, I am grateful that we are finding innovative ways to support inmates and those on conditional release in the community. I am also pleased to announce that Darryl McCullough is the winner of the 2019 Taylor Award for his 22 years of exceptional volunteer service.
International Day of Persons with Disabilities
This week, we also recognize International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3. The day promotes understanding of disability issues and the support for the dignity, rights, and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also highlights how every aspect of our society – political, social, economic, and cultural life – benefits from the integration of persons with disabilities. To know more about the initiatives we have put in place at CSC, please read my message.
Audit of CSC culture
CSC is committed to creating and maintaining a safe, healthy, respectful, and supportive work environment for our employees, partners, and offenders. This is a top priority in the Commissioner's mandate letter, which highlighted the Minister's expectations.
As part of our 2019-2020 Departmental Plan, we are undertaking an audit of our culture and have begun the planning phase. Our Internal Audit Sector, with the support of our Departmental Audit Committee, will engage broadly with senior management, regions and sectors, various subject matter experts from the National Advisory Committee on Ethics, external consultants, labour partners, and other federal government departments and organizations who have been undergoing changes in their organizational culture. This is an opportunity to examine all aspects of CSC's environment and ensure we are adopting the right approach in moving forward. If you have questions, please contact Christian D'Auray, Chief Audit Executive.
In November 27, the Government of Canada launched a national LGBTQ2 survey in order to better understand the daily realities and experiences of LGBTQ2 people in Canada, regarding employment, healthcare, housing, homelessness, and safety. The voluntary and anonymous survey is open to any Canadian who self-identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, or Two-Spirit. The survey will help inform the first-ever Federal LGBTQ2 Action Plan to improve the lives of diverse LGBTQ2 communities.
National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women
December 6, the anniversary of the 1989 tragic mass shooting of 14 young women at l'École Polytechnique Montréal, is recognized as a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. It is tragic to note that misogyny still exists 30 years on, and gender-based violence has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can add your voice to the online conversation until December 10 to share the ways you are being part of the solution to end gender-based violence using the hashtag #16Days.
Human Rights Day
One of our basic human rights is to live free from violence. We are reminded of this and other rights every year on December 10 – Human Rights Day. This year's theme, 'Recover Better,' urges us to focus on human rights in our COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts. We've seen how the pandemic has increased poverty, inequalities, and discrimination, and widened other gaps in human rights protection.
Video visitation kiosks
I'm happy to report that in response to the increased number of requests, more video visitation kiosks have been installed in institutions across the country. We also worked with Shared Services Canada to make improvements to our network infrastructure to meet the demands for video visits. Before March, CSC had 57 kiosks; by June we had 101. The number of video visits increased from 41 calls per day in March to 223 calls per day in June. The additional kiosks have allowed inmates to maintain and interact with family and community support contacts throughout COVID-19. Thank you to all staff who have contributed to the enhanced infrastructure and capacity that will benefit many offenders for years to come.
I appreciate you continuing to follow public health measures in keeping two metres between yourself and others, washing or sanitizing your hands often, and wearing a mask. The importance of following these guidelines is becoming more apparent as the number of cases across the country rises. Let's all do our part to limit the spread of this contagious COVID-19 virus.
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