COVID-19 update for correctional employees: January 22, 2021

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

I wanted to thank you for your continued dedication and hard work.

COVID-19

Correctional Service Canada (CSC) continues to work hard and diligently in all of its operations to prevent and contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Thank you for the part each of you play in helping CSC manage through this pandemic.

I often think of our employees who are recovering from the virus and wish them well. Many inmates who have contracted COVID-19 have now recovered. CSC currently have 32 active cases across the country.

CSC is in the process of finalizing the first doses of vaccinations for inmates who were identified to receive it during phase one, as per:

At the same time, CSC and the Public Health Agency of Canada are working closely with provinces and territories to ensure that CSC health care and frontline workers are prioritized for vaccination in the first phase of vaccination programs. Several provinces have vaccinated our health care staff. As well, CSC is working to ensure access to the COVID-19 vaccine for all other CSC staff in accordance with the priority groups identified by NACI.

It will be several months before vaccines are available to all of us. It is important that we keep up with our infection prevention control measures. Please continue to:

Until we are all vaccinated, these measures are our best defence against contracting and spreading the virus.

Release of a National Joint Board of Investigation report

The tragic death of Marylène Levesque in January 2020 came as a shock for all of us. The offender, who was on day parole when this happened, pled guilty and was sentenced in February 2020 for his crime.

Violent crimes committed by offenders in the community are rare, and understanding the circumstances around this case was a priority for our organization. Shortly after the incident, CSC and the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) convened a National Joint Board of Investigation (BOI) to ensure accountability and transparency, and to reinforce our capacity to contribute to the safety of the public.

Yesterday, CSC publically released the BOI’s findings and recommendations. CSC also released, in response to the Board’s recommendations:

The BOI’s findings are grouped into four main themes:

The BOI made five recommendations related to CSC’s policies and operations. Work is underway to implement all of the recommendations.

I recognize that situations in which an offender on day parole commits a violent offence are extremely rare, in part, because of the important work of community frontline staff. I believe in the good work that we do to protect Canadians and improve lives every day. It is imperative that public safety be at the forefront of all CSC actions and decisions, and that we remain focused on delivering on CSC's mandate and continue to perform our work with professionalism and integrity.

Bell Let’s Talk Day

This has been a challenging year and it is important to take time to talk about mental health and actions that each of us can take to maintain our wellbeing during this time. It is equally important that we maintain strong virtual connections with friends, family members, and communities during this pandemic.

Bell Let’s Talk Day, which aims to end the stigma surrounding mental illness, is Thursday, January 28. Please check out the resources available and consider registering for the virtual event:

Menu change

On Monday, January 25, a new national menu will be introduced at all men’s institutions across the country. Last year, the National Menu Committee took recommendations and feedback from the inmate committees they worked with across the country. The new menu items include foods from different cultures. At this time, the menus at women’s institutions are unchanged given that most often, these inmates make their own food.

Thank you to the staff who worked on this new national menu.

James A. Murphy CAC Award

This week was Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) awareness week. As we know, CAC members are also an important part of the correctional community. Kudos to Raynald Martel who is this year’s recipient of the James A Murphy CAC Award. He has been a CAC member of the Donnacona Institution in Québec since 1986, helping resolve major incidents or disruptions at the site. His personal experience and familiarity with correctional environments enable him to provide CSC with thoughtful advice. Raynald’s contribution to public safety throughout his 34 years of volunteering with the Donnaconna CAC has been exemplary and is greatly appreciated.

Extension of employee survey

Thank you to those of you who completed the 2020 Public Service Employee Survey. Over the years, employee opinions have helped us implement positive change in areas such as:

Your opinion does matter. The deadline has been extended to January 29, 2021, so that more of you can take the survey. Your manager will ensure you have time to complete it during your normal workday. This year is especially important because new questions have been added relating to racism and how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected your work.

If you cannot find the survey email invitation, please request another through:

Your opinion, our future!

Thanks again for everything you do. I appreciate your hard work and dedication very much.

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