COVID-19 update for correctional employees: February 26, 2021

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

With the end of February, I hope this means that warmer weather is not far off. This week’s updates include several important reports and good news stories.

Office of the Correctional Investigator COVID-19 Report

On Tuesday, the Office of the Correctional Investigator (OCI), released his third public update on the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on federal corrections. As he points out, and as you know personally, the measures Correctional Service Canada (CSC) has taken to protect the health and safety of our staff, offenders, and the public have evolved as the pandemic has continued to shift into different phases. Keeping everyone as safe as possible in a challenging and dynamic environment has always been our top priority. Rigorous protocols will continue around:

CSC recognizes that vaccinations are also key to preventing spread of the virus. Consistent with National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) guidelines, CSC has vaccinated approximately 600 older offenders prioritized by age and underlying medical conditions. As further supply of the vaccine becomes available, it will be offered to all federal inmates based on NACI prioritization guidance. CSC expects to be in a position to roll out phase two of vaccinations in the Spring. Phase two priority groups include all staff and residents of congregate living environments, such as correctional institutions. CSC continues to work closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the provinces and local public health authorities to facilitate access to the vaccine for correctional staff, in keeping with NACI phase two priorities.

The OCI has made five recommendations. I encourage you to read the OCI’s report, CSC’s response to the report and recommendations, as well as CSC’s statement on the report. Our ability to adapt thus far is a testament to the hard work you do every day. Although this past year have brought many changes, the one constant has been your dedication and professionalism.

Virtual volunteer mentor program at Millhaven SIU

Thanks to employee innovation, a successful volunteer-run, telephone-based support program is now available at the Millhaven Institution structured intervention unit (SIU) in Ontario. The program, initially developed in Montreal for parolees, provides inmates in the SIU with the opportunity to speak to a volunteer from the student-run group, Queen’s Correctional Services Volunteers. Employees at Millhaven set up a schedule in the evenings and weekends when offenders connect with volunteers from a semi-private room equipped with a phone. I would like to thank the staff for their initiative in getting this program up and running. Thanks to this program, volunteers are contributing to meaningful human contact for inmates in SIUs.

Black History Month

As CSC wraps up Black History Month, I want to thank everyone who hosted and participated in virtual events across the country. I know many of you took the time to celebrate Black history and reflect on the challenges Black people and communities continue to face. This includes Diane Giguère, Senior Project Officer in the Reintegration Operations Division at National Headquarters, who shared her journey to understanding the reality of Black people as well as her desire to make a positive difference. In Monday’s This Week at CSC, she shared some thoughtful book recommendations. I invite you to read about them. 

I encourage everyone to continue to celebrate the legacy of Black Canadians and be part of making history now by working for a more inclusive, equitable and diverse society that is free of racism and discrimination. Every day, we can take actions that move us forward together in the right direction, both here at CSC and in your personal lives.

2019 to 2020 Annual Victim Complaints Report

I wanted to share with you some information about CSC’s victim services. CSC serves approximately 8,700 registered victims and staff across the organization. CSC is required by the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights to provide victims of crime with a way to resolve a complaint if they feel that their rights have been infringed upon or denied.

The Annual Victim Complaints Report for 2019 to 2020 is now available online. CSC is committed to providing a fair and prompt complaint process. Thank you to all staff involved in upholding victims’ rights and, in particular, our victim services staff who work hard every day to assist victims of crime with their questions and concerns.

Education at Edmonton Institution for Women

I am pleased to share that the University of Alberta in Edmonton established the Walls to Bridges University in September 2019 to provide courses to Indigenous women offenders at Edmonton Institution for Women. One student inmate, Elaine (Rosie) Cece, received the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies’ Missing Indigenous Women Award for her contribution to the course. The positive impacts of taking courses at the W2B University are benefitting women offenders now and for their future. Read more about the Walls to Bridges University.

Official Languages Best Practices Forum

I’m happy to share that for the first time ever, the Official Languages Best Practices Forum is open to all public servants. This year’s virtual event is taking place March 1 to 5 on the GCwiki platform and will focus on the theme of diversity and inclusion. Next week’s programming, which is dedicated to the vitality and growth of official languages in the Public Service will include:

We all have a role to play in improving linguistic security in our work environments, as well as in the Canadian population. I encourage you to discover next week’s:

Serology research

CSC is collaborating on new serology research with:

The research will determine how many employees and inmates from some CSC institutions and provincial correctional facilities have antibodies to the COVID-19 virus by testing their blood. Participation is completely voluntary and test results are confidential. The research will help the task force better understand how antibody levels change over time to understand if there is a risk of re-infection. This will be helpful to determine the need for vaccine follow-up in our institutions. The federal sites included in the study are:

Read CITF’s news release for more information.


I thank you all for being conscious of how your actions keep yourself and others healthy. While CSC still has some cases in three of our institutions, Archambault in Quebec, Stony Mountain in Manitoba, and Drumheller in Alberta, the fact that the majority of our institutions continue to be free of the virus is thanks to your continued diligence in:

Unfortunately, there are now variants of the COVID-19 virus in Canada and to help keep our institutions free of any form of the virus, it is essential that we keep up with our health and safety measures.

Your efforts are helping to prevent the introduction and spread of this contagious virus and are much appreciated. Keep up the good work.

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