COVID-19 update for correctional employees: April 29, 2022

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

COVID-19 cases continue to circulate in our communities across the country. The need to wear masks in our workplaces, offices, and institutions is important. We know that masks, in combination with vaccinations and other layers of protection, do help limit the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in our facilities. Your continued cooperation in following our health measures helps keep others and yourself healthy and is much appreciated.

Mental Health Week

I am pleased that CSC is again joining the Canadian Mental Health Association in highlighting Mental Health Week, taking place from May 2 to 8. We often make the effort to maintain our physical health, but it is important not to neglect our mental health, especially in the context of the pandemic. This week, take time to listen to one another. One of the best ways to support each other is by showing empathy and really listening to others. I encourage you to learn about the different ways to create a safe space where you can talk about mental health. Read more about the art of listening here:

I would also like to acknowledge how teams of CSC health professionals work to enhance the mental health of individuals in our care:

They provide quality, safe and patient-centered care to offenders. Thank you for the services you provide!

First CAC Appreciation Day

On Wednesday, during CSC’s National Volunteer Week, we celebrated the first annual Citizen Advisory Committees (CAC) Appreciation Day. The theme, From challenges to creativity: celebrating CAC resiliency, highlights their continued efforts to observe, liaise, and advise even in the face of challenges presented by the pandemic.

CAC members interact with :

They are a two-way communication link between CSC and the community, and other stakeholders in the criminal justice system. They:

A big thank you to the committee members for their continued commitment and dedication. Their role is especially important during a crisis.

I want to congratulate the 2021 recipient of the James A. Murphy (CAC) Award, Benoît Roy from the Quebec Region. Congratulations to all of the nominees from the other regions who demonstrated exemplary commitment, drive, and leadership in advancing the CAC initiative. Learn more about:

Canada’s Penitentiary Museum

As May is Museum Month, I thought I would share a few interesting facts about our own Canada's Penitentiary Museum in Kingston, Ontario, that houses a collection of artifacts from across the country. The museum, now located in the old warden’s home, opened in 1967 for Canada’s centennial. Before the pandemic, the museum received about 45,000 visitors annually, and since 2012, has had a Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence. I encourage you to visit the museum if you are ever in Kingston. We are now creating a virtual museum, so all Canadians can view our collection. Find out more about it here:

Dad Hero radio documentary

This Sunday, May 1, at 12:30 p.m., be sure to turn on your radio and listen to CBC’s documentary, Fatherhood Interrupted, about the Dad Hero program, initiated by the Canadian Families and Corrections Network to help incarcerated fathers. We have been working with CBC on this feature for months, and the time to appreciate the final result has finally arrived. You will hear different perspectives, from your colleagues to offenders and their families, about how this program has helped not only fathers, but their families in reconnecting and having a better relationship. Thank you to all those involved. If you miss the documentary on CBC radio, the Fatherhood Interrupted written article with audio and images will be on the CBC website here:

Red Dress Day

May 5 is the National Day for Awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), also known as Red Dress Day. This commemorative day was created by Métis artist Jaime Black as a way of generating awareness around MMIWG, honouring the lives of those who have been lost, and supporting their families and communities who live daily with the grief of losing a loved one. 

Next Thursday, I invite you to participate in Movement is Medicine: Walk-or-Run, a virtual event hosted by the Knowledge Circle for Indigenous Inclusion. You can choose to walk or run a 5km or 10km to show support and bring awareness to this important cause. I also encourage you to wear a red dress or hang a red dress inside or outside your home in commemoration of those women and girls, as well as the Indigenous children who tragically lost their lives at residential schools. You can register for free here

I would like to remind you that if you need assistance and support, the National Residential School Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day at 1-866-925-4419. EAP referral agents are available to listen to you and help find appropriate, helpful resources that can respond to your needs. In addition, Employee Assistance Services are available to you and your eligible family members at all hours. Here are the links to these resources:

Mental health and well-being are matters close to my heart. I cannot stress enough how important it is to listen to how you feel emotionally and mentally, as much as you listen to how you feel physically. There are many stressors in our lives and it is okay to ask for support to deal with them. I appreciate that this has been a difficult few years as many of you juggled both work and home life, all while trying to be mindful of your own health and safety and caring for those around you as well. I know it has not been easy. Thank you for your ongoing hard work and dedication.

Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence

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