COVID-19 update for correctional stakeholders: October 8, 2020

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

As part of my commitment to keep you informed, below are some recent updates as we continue to manage through the current pandemic.

Thanksgiving weekend

This coming long weekend, October 10-12, we must do essential work on the IT system that will temporarily disrupt video visitations. This outage is taking place during an important holiday weekend. I provided all inmates with advanced notice through my weekly inmate message last Friday so that video visitations can be arranged around this outage. Telephone calls remain available to inmates over the course of that weekend.

Update on Quebec

As you know, the situation varies in communities across Canada. Some communities are currently seeing a rise in community transmission rates and public health authorities are heightening public health measures.

On September 26, we heightened our COVID-19 measures in Quebec to prevent potential spread of the virus in our institutions and community correctional centres. At all of our Quebec sites, we suspended visits to offenders. This impacts members of the public, volunteers, Citizen Advisory Committee members, non-governmental organizations and lawyers. We also suspended temporary absences and work releases in our institutions. Telephone and video visitation are available and we will work to facilitate inmates’ access to legal representatives.

These are proactive and preventative measures, which we will re-evaluated weekly and adjusted accordingly. We made this decision in close consultation with public health. It follows the mitigation strategies identified on our Integrated Risk Management Framework, which has been developed in concert with our labour partners and stakeholders. While these additional measures do not currently affect our operations in other regions, we are monitoring the situation closely and are prepared to take additional actions, as needed. More information:

Updates on operational activities

As part of our case management services, institutional parole officers (IPOs) and managers of Assessment and Interventions (MAI) are starting to phase in some onsite work in areas of low-moderate risk for COVID-19. We are aiming to have them work remotely as much as possible, except for critical activities that require an on-site presence at an institution.

In communities where there is no community transmission, we have now extended discretion to the institutional head for clustered sites to allow up to 10 volunteers and stakeholders to enter per security level unit, as long as the resources and capacity at those sites can support it. Also, for health and safety reasons, volunteers and stakeholders are not to move between security level units in a clustered site. This helps to prevent possible spread of the virus at our sites.

Speech from the Throne

On September 23, Governor General Julie Payette opened a new session of Parliament with a speech from the throne. The speech laid out the Government of Canada’s goals and agenda for this session. The speech unveiled the government’s strategy for addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and a pledge to address systemic racism in a way that is informed by the lived experiences of Black Canadians, racialized communities and Indigenous Peoples. We look forward to continuing to work with our stakeholders in support of the Government of Canada’s public safety agenda.

Orange Shirt Day

CSC took part in Orange Shirt Day on September 30. This day was inspired by Phyllis Webstad, who wore a new orange shirt on her first day of attending a residential school. Her shirt was taken away and never returned. On this day, orange shirts are worn as a reminder of the trauma endured by First Nations, Inuit and Métis children at residential schools. It is also an opportunity to reflect on what this day means to survivors, their families and communities. I want to highlight the remarkable achievements and resilience of Indigenous Peoples in this country. I am thankful for our 1,600 Indigenous employees and approximately 140 Elders who represent Indigenous communities from coast to coast to coast. They are vital in helping our Indigenous inmates reconnect with their culture and communities.

Emerson Douyon Multiculturalism Award Winner

I would like to congratulate Cecilia Rossander who is the 2019–2020 recipient of the Emerson Douyon Multiculturalism Award. Cecilia is a Social Program Officer at William Head Institution who has demonstrated respect, diversity and inclusion in all the vital work she has done to promote multiculturalism and diversity within CSC and in the community.

Inclusivity is among CSC’s values and it means making a commitment to being welcoming and learning from others, including their cultural and spiritual backgrounds and points of view. We strive to live this value and appreciate Cecilia and many others who make this a practice in our workplace every day.

I would also like to thank our Quebec Regional Ethnocultural Advisory Committee member, Ms. Anissa Kherrati, for her contributions to the nomination committee.

October - Women’s History Month

Since 1992, every October, the Government of Canada has commemorated Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate the courageous women and girls who have contributed to a better, more inclusive Canada and world. During this month, we also celebrate International Day of the Girl, on October 11th, and Persons Day, on October 18th, marking the historic 1929 Supreme Court ruling to include women in the legal definition of persons.

This month, CSC will celebrate milestones in women’s history, including those made in women's corrections. Since 1990, when an independent task force released Creating Choices, CSC’s approach to women’s corrections has been guided by the five principles outlined in the report - empowerment, meaningful and responsible choices, respect and dignity, supportive environments, and shared responsibility. This important report, released after reviewing the state of federal women's corrections in Canada, incorporated a holistic and research-based correctional philosophy for federal women offenders. It facilitated improvements in correctional and mental health interventions, operations, and human resources so that women have the support and programs needed for their safe rehabilitation and reintegration to the community as law-abiding citizens.

Cyber Security Awareness Month

October is also Cyber Security Awareness Month, an internationally recognized campaign held every year to inform the public of the importance of cyber security. This year, Cyber Security Awareness Month is focusing on protecting our devices.

This year during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to identify and avoid COVID-19-related cyber threats. Please help spread the work and take advantage of the messaging, graphics, videos and other information that can be customized and used on your person or organization’s channels.

COVID-19 pandemic

The pandemic is affecting our communities, friends and loved ones in different ways, depending on their situation. Our individual actions can have an important community impact. Please join me in reinforcing the need to respect the public health measures that are in place. Together, we can work to minimize the effects of this virus on our communities.

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