COVID-19 update for correctional employees: April 30, 2021
This content is a message to Correctional Service Canada (CSC) staff from CSC's Commissioner.
April has gone by very fast. We began with the celebration of Easter and the end of Passover and, in closing, I would like to say Ramadan Mubarak to Muslims who observe this holy month. Being together is more difficult this year, of course, but I wish you many meaningful moments celebrating together in safe ways.
COVID and Layers of Protection
There have now been 1.18 million cases of COVID-19 in Canada, with an average of more than 7,000 new cases a day in Canada. We need to be diligent about following infection prevention control measures to keep ourselves and those in our custody safe and healthy.
Our best protection is a combination of many actions, which provide layers of protection, including hand hygiene, wearing a mask, keeping your physical distance—and now we have the vaccine. I thank you for keeping up these actions at home, outdoors and at work, and for getting the vaccine when offered to you.
While the vaccine will help protect you from severe illness and hospitalization, please remember that most of the approved vaccines require two doses before you have maximum immunity. Public health experts recommend that we continue to follow the health and safety measures to ensure ongoing infection prevention and control measures are in place, especially as more of the population gets immunized. Please speak to your vaccine administrator for more information specific to the vaccine that you receive.
As well, if you cannot work from home and must attend a physical work site, please do not go into work if you have any family members or people in your household who are currently positive for COVID-19.
Mental Health Week
Next week is the 70th annual Canadian Mental Health Association’s (CMHA) Mental Health Week. Every year, the CMHA raises awareness about mental health. This year, the theme is “Get Real About How You Feel.” Relying on others and sharing our very normal feelings of sadness, fear, and worry is hugely important during this unusual time. Even in times of extreme anxiety and stress, mental health is something we can protect.
CSC has many resources available to address your mental health needs, such as the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) referral agents, the Employee Assistance Services, as well the LifeSpeak platform. Visit the Hub for more tools and resources.
It is equally important that we recognize all the important work that our staff do every day in managing the health of offenders under our care. CSC’s team of licensed psychiatrists, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, psychologists and physicians work together to provide mental health care services to offenders.
Safety and Health Week
Next week is also North American Occupational Safety and Health Week. It is a great opportunity to remember the importance of health and safety practices in the workplace. This Safety and Health Week is also an occasion to thank all the employees and managerial occupational groups who give many hours of their personal and professional time to bolster the Occupational Health and Safety and Hazard Prevention Programs.
These individuals work very hard to assist in consultations, address or raise questions and concerns, complete investigations regarding Canada Labour Code issues, and regularly inspect workplaces to ensure that our workplaces are safe and healthy, which has been crucial during the pandemic. I would like to extend my gratitude to staff for going above-and-beyond - your efforts are appreciated!
Asian Heritage Month
May is Asian Heritage Month. I encourage everyone to take time to celebrate the diversity of Asian cultures and peoples and to recognize the many achievements of people of Asian descent in Canada. As we honour this important month, we must also raise awareness of the ongoing challenges faced by Asian communities in Canada and around the world.
If you would like to find more information on activities and events for Asian Heritage Month, please visit the National Employment Equity and Diversity Committee commemorative dates page. You can also learn more about the contributions of Canada’s Asian communities to Canadian heritage and identity by reading about events in Asian Canadian history and noteworthy Canadians of Asian origin.
Live Discussion for Black Employees and Allies and the Assistant Commissioner of Human Resource Management
Nick Fabiano, the Assistant Commissioner, Human Resource Management (ACHRM), joined his peers last year to sign the Human Resource Council’s Statement of Action against Racism, Bias, and Discrimination in the Public Service. CSC is launching many new initiatives and activities to promote diversity and inclusion at CSC, including the newly formed Black Employee Network on Microsoft Teams. For those employees that have access to MS Teams, you are invited to join this network that has been created for Black employees and allies who want to share positive and empowering news and activities.
On Monday, May 10, all Black employees and allies are invited to a live discussion with the ACHRM. The Open Mic with Nick (Tell me what I should know) will be held from noon to 1:00 p.m. (EDT) on a live Microsoft Teams event platform, available to all staff with an internet connection. Employees are invited to submit questions and/or comments in advance on CSC’s Black Employee Network Microsoft Team group or by email to email@example.com before May 5. I hope you will take the time to voice your concerns and ideas. Stay tuned for more information on this event.
Ask Me Anything Virtual Session
On May 5, the Canadian Coast Guard and Fisheries and Oceans Canada will host a virtual session open to all government employees called Ask Me Anything: Inclusion and Belonging. It will include conversations about physical disabilities, invisible disabilities such as mental health injuries and PTSD; gender; race; religion, and parenthood. I encourage you to register and you can submit questions to the guest speakers anonymously.
Government of Canada Communications Awards of Excellence
I would like to take a moment to congratulate the CSC communications team. On April 29, 2021, the team received a Government of Canada Communications Award of Excellence for its internal communications work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Communications and engagement continue to be at the core of our pandemic response and I want to thank everyone involved in making sure our employees, inmates, stakeholders and the public continue to be informed about the work we do. I would also like to thank the linguistic services team who supports everything we do. They help CSC communicate with our audiences in both official languages in a timely and responsive way. Way to go!
Edmonton Institution Relief Fund
I would like to recognize a group of correctional officers at Edmonton Institution (EI) who created a group called the EI Relief Fund. By fundraising through activities and events at the institution, they have supported various causes, including a local long-term care home to help seniors re-connect with their loved ones during the pandemic. You can read more about their generous donation.
In closing, on Wednesday this week we marked the National Day of Mourning to pay tribute to all those who have been lost, injured or ill in the course of carrying out their duties. We remember them and their loved ones.
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