COVID-19 update for correctional employees: March 5, 2021
This content is a message to Correctional Service Canada (CSC) staff from CSC's Commissioner.
I started sharing information with you about COVID-19 in early 2020. In my first notes, I asked that the Correctional Service Canada (CSC) follow the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)'s recommendation to:
- wash our hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- cough/sneeze into your arm, and
- avoid close contact with people who are sick
This is still sound advice that we all follow, but no one knew at the time how much this would affect our work and our lives over the past year.
Your ability to follow our heath and safety guidelines and protocols has made a huge difference in our collective ability to minimize and contain the virus. As CSC approaches a full year since the pandemic was officially declared, it is a good time to reflect on everything we accomplished together. I am very proud of the CSC team!
International Women's Day, March 8
International Women's Day is taking place on Monday. It is an opportunity to celebrate women's achievements and to recognize the challenges that women still face. I am proud, as a woman and as the Commissioner, that almost half of our employees are women (8,743). Positive change can happen all around us if we strive for equality and inclusion in everything we do. This year's theme is:
We are all encouraged to challenge our biases and misconceptions in order to create a more inclusive and gender-equal world.
Research has revealed that the pandemic has had a greater overall impact on women. In recognition of this, the Government of Canada is hosting a two-day summit, Canada's Feminist Response and Recovery, which coincides with International Women's Day on March 8 (and 9). The summit will bring together experts and community leaders to examine how the COVID-19 crisis has impacted the lives of women in Canada. You can find more information and register to participate by visiting the:
Take time on Monday to celebrate the women in your life, your:
- family members
- friends, and
Here at CSC, we are celebrating our women employees by highlighting them on:
Read what they say about what it is like to be a woman working at CSC. Thank you to all those that have shared their stories for this important day.
You all received a message about a virtual armchair discussion that I will be hosting on Monday. I will be joined by:
- Angela Connidis, Deputy Commissioner for Women and Champion for the National Working Group for Women Employees
- France Gratton, Assistant Commissioner of Correctional Operations and Programs
- Jacqueline Edwards, Manager of Assessment and Intervention in the Ontario Region, and
- Sonya Forget, Warden of Joliette Institution
I look forward to the conversation!
Pharmacy Appreciation Month
March is Pharmacy Awareness Month. During unprecedented challenges over the past year, pharmacy staff have stepped up like never before to maintain medication delivery schedules and provide clinical pharmacy services, prioritizing the health and safety of staff and inmates. Let us acknowledge all the hard work CSC pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacy assistants do every day to help inmates meet their health goals.
National Social Work Month
Also in March, CSC highlights and appreciates the important role that social workers play in the daily lives of Canadians and during difficult times, such as this past year's global pandemic. As part of CSC's interdisciplinary teams, our social workers provide numerous important services, including:
- clinical interventions
- programming, and
- policy development for federal offenders
Through their continuous work, they make a real impact on the lives of individuals.
Rendez-vous de la Francophonie
In March, CSC also gets to celebrate Rendez-vous de la Francophonie. There is a great series of cultural events organized to promote the French language and its multiple expressions, culminating in la Journée internationale de la Francophonie, on March 20.
Visit Rendez-vous de la Francophonie to participate in the entertaining and enriching activities throughout the month, and to celebrate the Francophonie, its culture, diversity and inclusiveness across Canada.
Black History Month
Black History Month concluded last week and I was excited by the engaging and informative staff activities that were held across the regions. I encourage you to read about some of the activities that took place.
I know that many events were held across the country, and I want to thank you again for celebrating Black History Month and keeping the dialogue going all year. As I have mentioned, we must continue to honour Black history and culture and CSC must keep working towards creating a respectful, inclusive and diverse environment in our workplaces and institutions.
Stakeholder Collaboration Hub
I am pleased to announce that in December 2020, the Communication and Engagement Sector launched the CSC Stakeholder Collaboration Hub (Collab Hub). The Collab Hub is a social media-like platform that allows members to:
- find one another
- come together
- communicate, and
- exchange ideas
It will enable users to facilitate relationships with our many valued stakeholders locally, regionally, and nationally. I know that many of you have already received information about the benefits of this tool and have been invited to join. I encourage employees to create an account and set up spaces to share information and collaborate with CSC's stakeholders, such as:
- advisory committees
- volunteers, or
- community partners
To learn more about this new tool, consider attending a demo by contacting:
Departmental Plan 2021-22
On February 25, CSC's Departmental Plan 2021-22 was tabled in Parliament.
This annual plan outlines CSC's plans, priorities and expected results that our organization set out over the subsequent three years. The Departmental Plan highlights our planned results in our three core responsibilities, which includes:
- care and custody
- correctional interventions, and
- community supervision
CSC is focusing on:
- offender population management
- structured intervention units
- Indigenous offenders
- offender health
- staff well being, and
I invite you to read more about CSC's departmental plans and priorities. I look forward to working with CSC's dedicated staff, partners and stakeholders in the years ahead as CSC continues to support offender rehabilitation and reintegration, while maintaining public safety.
Recently, CSC updated its COVID-19 testing strategy to include different Health Canada approved testing options. In addition to the laboratory test, CSC is now using two rapid tests for staff and offenders:
Abbott ID Now
The Abbott ID Now is a rapid point of care (onsite) molecular test that can deliver results in 13 minutes. The device analyzes a sample from a throat or nasal swab, and can detect the virus during the first seven days of symptom onset. Abbott ID Now is useful when timely results are needed, such as when testing offenders being transferred or released into the community.
Abbott Panbio is a rapid point of care antigen test that analyzes a nasopharyngeal (similar to a nasal) swab and can deliver results in 15 minutes. Abbott Panbio is useful when test results can help support timely clinical decision-making, such as for screening numerous staff and inmates during an outbreak or for mass testing of asymptomatic individuals in high-risk settings.
Update to PPE guidelines
In February 2021, CSC updated its personal protective equipment (PPE) guidelines to require staff and contractors to wear medical masks at all times. As always, inmates must wear non-medical masks at all times when outside of their room or cell, unless a medical exemption is provided. Inmates are required to wear medical masks at outbreak sites or in other limited situations outlined in the Integrated Risk Management Framework or on the advice of a Management Early Response Committee or Emergency Response Committee.
Letters from inmates
I want to thank those of you who work directly with inmates. I have received a number of letters from inmates expressing their appreciation for the concern and consideration shown to them during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a direct reflection of the dedication and conscientious work you are doing. It is great to get positive feedback from those in our care. CSC has also received positive feedback from family members of inmates. Thank you for your ongoing hard work!
Since March 2020, CSC has been posting the numbers of inmate COVID-19 tests and positive cases at institutions. Last week, CSC updated the table to include more information, including a breakdown of the institutions' security levels to more accurately show where the confirmed cases are. CSC heard from its stakeholders and from the families and loved ones of inmates that they appreciate getting this level of detail and truly appreciate the transparency CSC has shown in sharing this information so regularly.
As with my very first message a year ago about COVID-19, I am still encouraging you to wash or sanitize your hands often and continue to wear a mask at all times. It is still imperative CSC do these basic things to minimize contracting and spreading the virus.
Thank you for applying these measures and for keeping yourself and others healthy.
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