COVID-19 update for correctional stakeholders: February 22, 2021

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

I hope that this update finds you well as we continue to navigate this pandemic. As you will see, there are a number of updates that I feel may be of interest, in addition to several important dates that CSC is recognizing.

COVID-19 update

The health and safety of our employees, inmates and the public continues to be our top priority during this public health pandemic.

As of February 18, there are 8 active COVID-19 cases at Drumheller Institution in Alberta and 50 at Archambault Institution in Quebec. Other cases have all been resolved. This is an evolving situation and we continue to monitor things across the country very closely and take additional measures accordingly.

We continue to raise awareness about how everyone has a role to play in reducing the spread of COVID-19. By wearing a mask, staying two metres from others, and using hand sanitizer/washing your hands often throughout the day, it really helps to minimize the introduction and spread of this contagious virus.

We continue to work with public health and follow the latest science and evidence in all of our practices. We recently updated our cleaning guidance to include supplemental information, including best practices and advice from public health authorities. Fortunately, the coronavirus can be easily killed on surfaces by using the appropriate disinfectant. Our guidance includes step-by-step procedures for cleaning and disinfecting cells, public spaces, high contact surfaces, and fleet vehicles for staff, offenders, and others.

Given local differences in the prevalence of COVID-19 across Canada, we have an extensive colour-coded risk management process for how we evaluate activities at each site and decide which mitigation measures are needed. This is closely supported by public health data and input. These committees have ongoing participation from unions, stakeholders, Elders, public health and internal/regional experts to make decisions in the best interest of everyone's health and safety. During the pandemic, CSC continues to provide services to inmates such as programming, education, recreation and spiritual services. These take place under specific health and safety measures and guidelines.

COVID communications

CSC continues to play an active and ongoing role in communicating with a variety of audiences on multiple platforms. This has been of critical importance to us during the pandemic. Throughout this evolving situation, we continue to listen to feedback and make enhancements to our approach in order to meet the needs of the communities we serve.  Shortly after the start of the pandemic, CSC began publishing inmate COVID-19 testing results online. This was a proactive measure to be able to keep families of inmates and communities informed. We are currently in the process of updating our testing data table with more extensive data, including on sites where there have been outbreaks. This should be available online shortly.

CSC has also been proactively reporting on COVID-19 outbreaks relevant to our sites, any deaths, and public health restrictions in place, including those affecting visits. From the start of the pandemic, as an added transparency measure, we began posting our weekly Commissioner's messages to inmates and staff on our Web site. All news releases that were issued to the media, as well a wide-range of COVID-19 information and resources, are also available on CSC's Web site. We continue to share updates on social media as well as make available our subject matter experts for interviews, especially in regions.

Black History Month

February 2021 marked the 25th anniversary of the Government of Canada officially celebrating Black History Month.

The theme this year is The Future is Now. It encourages us to take the time to learn about and honour the important contributions of Black Canadians and other people of African descent to the settlement, growth, and development of Canada. It also inspires us to celebrate the diversity of Black Canadian communities, and their significance to Canadian heritage and identity.

In that spirit, Black History Month created an important opportunity for CSC to celebrate Black History. This year, CSC's Employment Equity and Diversity Committee shared information with employees throughout the month of February. I would like to take this moment to acknowledge and thank the members of our regional and national ethnocultural advisory committees, who provide a valued contribution to ethnocultural offenders in our care and custody.

A Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion

On January 22, Ian Shugart, the Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, issued a Call to Action that seeks to bring more equity and inclusion to the federal Public Service. In it, the Clerk sets common expectations for leaders across the Public Service to take practical actions that will be the basis for systemic change. While senior leaders are accountable, this set of actions demands collective responsibility – at all levels.

Fostering a work environment that is safe and inclusive for everyone is our top priority. We continue to take concrete actions to ensure that our work environment is healthy, supportive, equitable and free of discrimination. We will be writing a letter to the Clerk to outline all the actions CSC is taking. I strongly urge you to read the Call to Action. I echo the Clerk's words: the time to act is now. If not us, then who?

Supplementary Mandate Letter

On January 15, 2021, the Prime Minister issued supplementary mandate letters to add to commitments in those released in 2019. They outline further responsibilities and prioritize key areas of focus for the government to fight COVID-19 and ensure a strong economic recovery in Canada. Please view the Supplementary Mandate Letter for the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

Psychology Month

Every February, we recognize and show appreciation for the important role psychologists play in our lives, both as researchers and practitioners. During the pandemic, psychologists have supported those at risk, through the services they provide, educating communities, and advocating for mental health services. This month, we took the time to appreciate their everyday contributions to our workplace environment and their dedication to the development of informed practices and policies.

John Howard Society Week: Feb 14-20, 2021

Last week was John Howard Society of Canada Week to celebrate the legacy of John Howard. We promoted this to our employees over the course of the week. For more information, please visit their website:

Security Awareness Week 2021

At CSC, we take pride in our role in public safety and security. February 8 to 12 was Security Awareness Week. This year's theme Securely Re-inventing your Workplace, speaks to our new normal. Although the work environment may have changed for some of us, our responsibilities remain the same, which apply to employees and our many important partners and volunteers.

Moose Hide Campaign

This was the 10th year of the Moose Hide campaign, a grassroots movement of Indigenous and non-Indigenous men and boys standing up against violence towards women and children. February 11th marked an online day of action, inspiration, ceremony and fasting. We can all challenge the root causes of violence by supporting Indigenous peoples as they rebuild Indigenous cultures and languages; and by addressing harmful stereotypes. To learn more, visit the Moose Hide Campaign website.

Corporate Planning and Reporting Poster

I am pleased that CSC's updated Corporate Planning and Reporting Poster is now available. The poster is a source of information, providing information on our workforce, the offenders under our jurisdiction, and how we support offenders through the correctional continuum. This year, we added sections on COVID-19 and Structured Intervention Units. You can request a copy by emailing  Integrated Strategic Business Planning.

Declaration for a Canada Free of Gender-Based Violence

On January 21 and 22, the Ministers responsible for the Status of Women endorsed the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministerial Joint Declaration for a Canada free of Gender-Based Violence. This joint declaration is an important step in developing a coordinated national action plan to end all forms of violence against women and gender-based violence for every Canadian. The agreement will strengthen prevention measures, support survivors and their families, and improve responses in the justice system.

Thank you for your continued support.

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