Update on COVID-19 in federal corrections: June 25, 2020

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Organization: Correctional Service Canada

Date published: 2020-06-25

Snapshot: Federal correctional institutions

  • CSC manages approximately 13,900 inmates in 43 correctional institutions across the country.
  • As of June 25, 2020, 1339 inmates were tested, 360 tested positive:
    • 61% Caucasian
    • 21% Indigenous
    • 6% Black
    • 12% Other
  • There were outbreaks at five institutions with only one active case remaining:
    • Port-Cartier Institution (Quebec)
    • Grand Valley Institution for Women (Ontario)
    • Mission Institution (British Columbia)
    • Joliette Institution for Women (Quebec)
    • Federal Training Centre (Quebec) (one active case remaining)
  • There have been two deaths.
  • 142 CSC employees tested positive, 137 (or 97%) have recovered.

What's happening now

Existing Infection Prevention and Control Measures

Overarching approach in place in all federal correctional institutions include:

  • Preventing the introduction of COVID-19 into our sites by limiting access to all but critical workers and actively screening anyone entering a site.
  • Working in partnership with local public health authorities, PHAC and Indigenous Services Canada.
  • Providing all institutional employees and inmates with non-medical masks. Additional personal protective equipment (PPE) is available and provided to staff, as needed, including gloves, medical masks, face shields/goggles and gowns.
  • Increasing access to health care services and professionals, including nurses and doctors, and the necessary equipment, supplies and medications in all institutions.
  • Strengthening infection prevention and control measures by working with specialists to conduct reviews and implement recommendations that help prevent exposure and spread of illness.
  • Building our own contact tracing capacity by training over 200 employees.
  • Enhancing and increasing cleaning protocols, hand sanitizing stations, and providing extensive training and education.
  • Establishing protocols with local hospitals for transfer of care, if needed.

Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) and Environmental Health Reviews

  • Independent, expert-led reviews have been or are being conducted at all 43 institutions.
  • Reviews are completed by experts from PHAC, Health Canada, local public health and community consultants and are prioritized for completion based on risk.
  • In March and April, CSC reviewed IPC practices with each site.
  • In May 2020, IPC webinars were co-hosted by PHAC and CSC with participants attending from all sites and regional headquarters.
  • Following the webinar, all sites received an IPC self-assessment tool to ensure IPC compliance.
  • CSC is committed to fully addressing the results of all reviews.
  • Lessons learned at one site are being shared and implemented across all sites.

Summary of Review Findings

  • Recognition that COVID-19 is difficult to contain in closed environments, including prisons.
  • Consistent acknowledgement of strong frontline leadership and staff commitment to preventing and containing the spread of COVID-19.
  • Need to support ongoing infection and prevention training for all staff, starting with re-training everyone on PPE.
  • Need to continue to strengthen cleaning and disinfection practices, including a quality assurance program, requirements for commercial cleaners particularly in outbreak situations, and increased training/supervision of inmate cleaners.
  • Procedures for waste disposal (ie: no touch bins with liners).
  • Importance of cohorting staff and inmates to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Importance of thoughtfully thinking about work flow and how people move throughout institutions to reduce the risk of virus transmission at outbreak sites (ie: working from clean to contaminated, placement of hand sanitizing stations, layout of PPE donning and doffing stations).

Work Underway

  • Develop options to sustain, within CSC, IPC expertise, rigorous cleaning standards, and expanded public health capacity for the mid to long term.
  • Develop and deliver IPC education for staff, offenders, volunteers and contractors.
  • Expand the use of technology to support the delivery of rehabilitation programs, health services, administrative and staffing training capacity, while simultaneously supporting physical distancing and other controls.
  • Review infrastructure requirements to better support IPC standards (eg: HVAC, hot water for laundry, dedicated medical isolation cells etc).

What's next

Shaping the "New" Normal

  • The health and safety of our employees, offenders and the public remain our top priority.
  • A governance structure is in place to look at different operational activities and make recommendations.
  • The timeline of when any activities will resume will vary across the country, based on provincial and local circumstances and public health advice.
  • Ongoing communications and engagement with employees, inmates, unions and stakeholders will continue to be a priority moving forward.

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