COVID-19 update for correctional employees: April 1, 2021

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

As we get ready for the long weekend, I hope that everyone has the opportunity to celebrate by connecting with loved ones and friends. Virtual connections are so important during the pandemic, especially since we continue to see higher rates of community transmission in many parts of the country.

Throughout the pandemic, people have marked important holidays and milestones in innovative ways. Whether it be a virtual gathering by video chat or an outdoor Easter egg hunt with the kids, there are many different ways to celebrate. We are all looking forward to the day we can gather again in person, but it is important to remember that your efforts and sacrifices now are helping to protect everyone’s health and safety. As we all await our turn to be vaccinated, please keep up the good work in following public health measures and guidelines!

Vaccinations for offenders and employees

As mentioned in my earlier message this week, CSC will soon begin rolling out the next phase of COVID-19 vaccinations. We are committed to following recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on vaccination. Vaccinating people in congregate living environments, such as correctional facilities, has been identified as a priority for phase two of Canada’s vaccine rollout.

Beginning in mid-April, we expect to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to offenders at all of our 43 institutions and 14 community correctional centres (CCC) across the country. To help support the provinces’ vaccination efforts, CSC will also offer the vaccine to employees who work in those settings and have not already had the opportunity to be vaccinated by their province. This collaboration helps to ensure that employees who work in these sites, and have not yet been identified as eligible by their province, are offered the vaccine in their workplace, which helps to protect our institutions and surrounding communities.

The best vaccine is the first one you are offered. Many of our institutional employees have already received their first dose of the vaccine by their province. If you have a chance to be vaccinated, please take it.

Community staff who do not work in a CCC, or who work at a regional headquarters or national headquarters, will be vaccinated by their local health authorities, including those who, on occasion, need to attend to an institution. We continue to work closely with the provinces to facilitate access to the COVID-19 vaccine for our staff in the community as well, in accordance with the priority groups identified by NACI

Thank you to everyone involved in planning our vaccination program across the country. It takes the involvement of many to bring this together and your efforts and hard work are much appreciated!

Memorial Grant Program Expansion

I would also like to highlight that today, on April 1, Minister Bill Blair announced that beneficiaries of correctional, parole and probation officers who have lost their lives as a result of their duties can now apply for the Memorial Grant Program for First Responders. This program provides a one-time lump sum, tax-free direct maximum payment of $300,000 to the families of first responders who die as a result of their duties. Eligibility is retroactive to April 1, 2018, the start date of this program.

This is an important way to honour the critical role correctional, parole and probation officers play in keeping Canadians and communities safe and helps to ensure that when the unthinkable happens, their families are supported.

I know the pandemic has brought challenges to our lives and it is difficult not to be able to spend holidays with family and friends. We must continue to take the measures necessary to maintain not only our physical health, but our mental health as well. I hope you take the opportunity to connect with loved ones safely – however that may look – and find some time to relax and recharge.

I would also like to extend a special thank you to those who will be working this weekend to keep Canadians safe. The dedication of all CSC staff continues to inspire me and I am proud to work alongside each of you as we rise to these challenges and shape the way forward.

Happy Easter to those who celebrate! Have a great long weekend everyone.

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