COVID-19 update for correctional stakeholders: April 27, 2020

This content is a message to Correctional Service Canada's (CSC’s) stakeholders from the Commissioner of CSC.

I hope this message finds you well. It has been a difficult week for Correctional Service of Canada (CSC).

Over the weekend of April 19th, the country witnessed a terrible tragedy in Nova Scotia. Our hearts go out to Nova Scotians, the families and loved ones of the victims, as we all grieve the people we lost. We are thinking of our two CSC employees who were among the victims. Alanna Jenkins from Nova Institution and Sean McLeod from Springhill Institution, were both Correctional Managers who carried out their responsibilities with the highest level of integrity and professionalism.

Our thoughts and most sincere condolences go out to Alanna’s and Sean's families, friends and colleagues during this very difficult time. We are also thinking of our colleagues and partners in the Atlantic Region and across the country. We are also grateful to partners and friends that have delivered food, coffee and flowers to the sites to support the staff. A vigil called ‘Nova Scotia Remembers’ was livestreamed on Friday. Messages of condolence for their families can be sent to CSC.Condolences-Condoleances.SCC@csc-scc.gc.ca.

I also wanted to let you know that, on April 15, 2020, a staff member at Stony Mountain Institution was seriously assaulted in the Structured Intervention Unit (SIU). The injured staff member was evaluated and treated at an outside hospital. These situations are always taken seriously. The assailant was identified and appropriate actions were taken. The employee is expected to make a full recovery.

There is lots going on as we continue to address the COVID-19 situation. We recognize the seriousness of the COVID-19 situation and the stress and worry it causes for our employees, inmates and families. These are unprecedented times and we are working diligently, and often around the clock, to minimize any risks and prevent the spread of the virus. To date, 244 inmates have tested positive out of a federally incarcerated population of 13,900. The institutions in two of our five regions do not have any cases. At sites where there have been outbreaks, we are thankful to see both staff and inmates starting to recover.

Since my last update to you, we unfortunately had a first, and hopefully only, death related to COVID-19. An inmate from Mission Institution passed away on April 15, 2020 at Abbotsford Regional Hospital as an apparent result of complications related to COVID-19. CSC has expanded reporting on its website to include the number of deaths and the number of recoveries from COVID-19, in addition to the numbers of inmates tested by institution and by Province.

In response to the outbreak at Mission medium-security Institution, we have reviewed local infection and control measures, in collaboration with several external experts, to ensure we are doing everything possible to prevent the further transmission of COVID-19. As a result of this work, we are reinforcing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) procedures, reviewing the placement of hand hygiene stations, reinforcing and strengthening disinfection practices and reviewing options to better cohort sick inmates, in addition to medical isolation. We have also expanded our health care capacity. We went to a 24/7 roster at Mission, including physician coverage, to provide ongoing care to inmates.

A mobile medical unit at the Abbotsford Regional Hospital in British Columbia was also stood up to help support the inmates at Mission Institution, who may require hospital care. Our partnerships with public health are key to supporting the needs of our inmates. Everyone is really working together to save lives.

CSC has also been working with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to identify additional measures required to control any outbreaks in institutions. CSC and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) are working collaboratively to strengthen the outbreak management and coordination at both local and national levels and have established Local and National Outbreak Coordinating Committees.

All CSC workers in our institutions are provided with masks and we continue to train everyone on how to wear them. This is an added protection measure. Given growing evidence that asymptomatic people can transmit the virus, starting last week, all inmates across the country are also being provided with masks.

Since the beginning of March 2020, the federal custody population has declined by nearly 275 inmates, more than the average size of a minimum-security facility. This reduction is the result of fewer admissions from the province and continued releases into the community. We continue to work closely with the Parole Board of Canada with respect to the safe release of offenders into the community within our existing policies and processes.

In order to keep inmates informed, I have provided regular communiqués that are distributed directly to all inmates committees with copies for all inmates. Families of inmates may be interested in this information.

I know these are difficult times for everyone. I appreciate your ongoing collaboration and support. I hope you are finding ways to stay connected with loved ones while maintaining physical distance. It is at times like this that we must support each other the best way we can.

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