COVID-19 update for correctional employees: May 21, 2021

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

I hope you are having a great week. Things continue to evolve quickly and as we approach the summer and more people are getting vaccinated, here is an overview of what happens next. The Public Health Agency of Canada has provided us with some positive forecasts.

I encourage you to get vaccinated when it is your turn. It requires two doses of the vaccine for us to develop optimum immunity. In the meantime, please keep up with provincial public health orders and continue to follow their guidance. In our workplaces, please maintain our infection prevention and control measures. Layers of protection are key.

We continue to have a few active cases of COVID-19 in our institutions. We currently have seven active inmate cases: two at Donnacona Institution (Maximum) in Quebec, three at Saskatchewan Penitentiary (Medium) in Saskatchewan and two at Bowden Institution (Medium/Minimum) in Alberta. I am happy to see the number of cases declining, and I know that is thanks to your efforts in following our health and safety measures to limit the spread of the virus. Thank you!

We have started our planning to reinstate activities and routines, as we see community transmission rates starting to decline and vaccination rates increasing. We will do this work in collaboration with our public health and labour partners, as we have been doing throughout the pandemic. I expect this process to be gradual, take into account the facts and circumstances in the communities where are workplaces are located, and have the ultimate goal of keeping everyone as safe as possible. I will keep you posted on developments.

Sharing a Positive Message

I wanted to share a note that I recently received from an inmate’s spouse. It reflects the incredible dedication of our staff in working to protect inmates during this pandemic. Your hard work, commitment and dedication is much appreciated.

“I wanted to take this time and provide you with some positive feedback, which I'm not sure you ever get enough of :). First of all, thank you for vaccinating the inmates so quickly and efficiently. The nurses and health care staff were excellent, helpful, and informative. Thank you as well for taking measures to protect the inmates as best you could. My husband has remained healthy and has received his vaccine. For that, I am so grateful.

Thank you for providing video visits. Without these, our children would have no face-to-face contact with their fathers and we would have no face-to-face contact with our husbands. That has definitely made a difference for everyone during this awful time. My son has been able to show my husband his school work, his latest video game, how tall he is growing, his loose tooth, his new bike, etc. Thank you!

Thank you for taking the time to provide and post messages to inmates. Many of the family members are also keeping up to date this way. Thank you for waiving inmate fees and providing extra money on their phone cards. This was an extra step that was by no means necessary, but very kind and showed us you were doing all you could to help families stay connected. Thank you for also providing the statistics and figures for the number of vaccinations in institutions. This is also a great reassurance to families and inmates that the majority of the population is being vaccinated and protected.

Lastly, thank you to all your staff at the institutions who have continued to show up to work throughout this pandemic and for their understanding. Much respect to all of them.”

Indigenous Awareness Week

Indigenous Awareness Week (IAW) is taking place from May 25-28, 2021. It gives federal public servants opportunities to learn more about the diverse cultures and traditions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people through online events. Reconciliation calls on us to better understand the history and cultures of Indigenous peoples and to commit to continuous learning. I encourage you to register for an event to deepen your understanding and participate in IAW.

Asian Heritage Month Activities and Learning Resources

As we continue to celebrate Asian Heritage Month and the many achievements of Canadians of Asian descent, I invite you to register for the launch event of the new Network of Asian Federal Employees (NAFE), which will take place May 26, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (ET). The NAFE was put together to help support Asian federal public servants and advance diversity and inclusion in the public service. Given the rise of anti-Asian racism and hate crimes, it is particularly important to have safe spaces for all Asian employees and allies. Check out the exciting list of panelists who will join this event.

In addition, on May 26, the fifth session of Ask Me Anything will take place from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (ET). This virtual event will focus on the importance of this commemorative month.

Further to these events, I encourage you to learn more about anti-Asian racism and how you can be a part of the fight to combat racism and hate in all of its forms. It simply has no place in our society or in any organization. Canadian Heritage and the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat has compiled a variety of resources for you to explore.

Saskatchewan Penitentiary Staff Support International Day of Pink

On April 14, a number of Saskatchewan Penitentiary staff members wore pink shirts in support of International Day of Pink to stand up to bullying, including discrimination and violence against the LGBTQ2I+ youth. Proceeds from the purchase of the pink shirts were donated to several non-profit organizations and charities that support at-risk LGBTQ2I+ youth. Kudos to organizer Russell Barton, A/Manager Assessment and Intervention, and staff who participated. By wearing pink shirts, you are demonstrating solidarity in the struggle for equality and acceptance for all, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, or being perceived as being LGBTQ2I+.

In closing, I want to thank you for doing a great job to keep managing through this pandemic. We are getting through it together. I know many of you may be tired and hopefully you can take time to rest as we welcome the summer weather.

While I know it can be hard as we are all excited to get back to some activities, it is critical that we stay the course and keep up with the health and safety measures in place. It is not time to let our guard down. I appreciate you continuing to protect yourself and others by wearing your mask, keeping two metres apart, and washing/disinfecting your hands often. Without a doubt, these measures along with vaccinations, create layers of protection that can greatly limit the spread of COVID-19. Stay well and be safe.

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