COVID-19 update for offenders and their families: June 5, 2020

This content is a message to federal offenders and their families from Correctional Service Canada's (CSC’s) Commissioner.

June is a month of national celebrations dedicated to inclusion, diversity and equality.

June is National Indigenous History Month and an opportunity to honour the history, heritage and diversity of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. To all of you who are Indigenous, we celebrate your heritage and culture, and welcome the opportunity to learn from you. As we continue to walk the path of reconciliation, listening is a key to our collective healing.

June marks the beginning of Pride Season, which runs until August – a time to recognize the LGBTQ2+ community, and promote the importance of equal rights and inclusion. Acceptance in all its forms is crucial, especially within our correctional system.

Finally, this week is National AccessAbility Week. It reminds us that an important part of inclusion is removing barriers and focusing on our strengths and abilities. It urges us to find positive ways and solutions, to fully participating in anything we undertake and including the greatest number of people possible.

I wanted to touch on what is happening right now in the news around the reality of racism, both here in Canada and elsewhere. It links well to the need for inclusion, diversity and equality I spoke of earlier.

Many of us are reminded that, as a community, we need to make change to ensure a safer future – both within our systems of justice and in the mindsets of Canadians. To our black inmates or those who are racialized, we see you. We all need to listen and learn from you, and use this as an opportunity for understanding, unity and betterment. We can all do better.

The knowledge of our past – and realities of our present – help us work to build a more inclusive future. Change is at the root of all of the things we commemorate this month. Changing divisiveness into unity. Turning wrongs into rights. Embracing differences. And owning our individual roles as a powerful source of progress.

During this pandemic, we are learning that each of us has a role to play in protecting the health of those around us – we each have the power to help prevent the spread of a virus, just like we have the power to contain the spread of intolerance in all of its forms.

I am pleased to report that we are down to only one case of COVID-19 in our institutions nationally – a big thank you for your contribution.  It is making a positive difference. Almost all inmates (99%) who tested positive since March have now recovered. This is a good sign that will help inform decisions on when and how we resume programs and activities. As I mentioned last week, your health and safety remains my top priority as we continue to shape our plans around what our “new normal” will look like. I want to thank you and your families for your continued patience as we work through this public health crisis.  To help you stay connected with your families, I am putting an additional $5 worth of minutes on your phone account effective Tuesday, June 9, 2020. Video visitation is also available.

In closing, I have heard from many of you and your families over the past months, where you have expressed appreciation for being kept informed through weekly communiques. I will continue to provide information as we make decisions. In the meantime, please continue to practice good hygiene and wear your mask, when required. I appreciate your cooperation.

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