COVID-19 update for correctional stakeholders: October 12, 2021

As the leaves change colours across the country, I hope you are all safe and well.

COVID-19

I am pleased that over 76% of inmates are now fully vaccinated. I would also like to highlight that at this time, 100% of inmates at Kwìkwèxwelhp Healing Village and Pê Sâkâstêw Centre have received at least their first dose of the vaccine. I am grateful to everyone who has contributed to this success.

Our infection prevention and control efforts have helped limit the spread of COVID-19 in our institutions. We continue to promote vaccination among inmates and nationally continue with measures of wearing a mask, washing or sanitizing our hands frequently and keeping a physical distance of two metres.

COVID-19 vaccination

On August 13, the Government of Canada announced its intent to require vaccination across the federal public service. On October 6, details were announced on the implementation of the vaccination requirement.

Under a new Policy, all employees in the Core Public Administration must be vaccinated.

For the purpose of the Policy on Vaccination, the requirement also applies to:

Contracted personnel who require access to federal government worksites in order to perform work for the Government of Canada must also be vaccinated.

While federal employees will need to have completed an attestation in our system by October 29, 2021, the procedure will be different for volunteers and contractors who do not have access to the Government of Canada system. We will provide more information on this as it becomes available. 

By all of us protecting ourselves, we help to protect others, including those in our care and custody who are living in congregate living environments. We thank everyone for their understanding and cooperation.

Orange Shirt Day

September 30 marked Orange Shirt Day and the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. As you know, this was a statutory holiday for public servants – an opportunity to pause from our normal activities to learn about the history and understand the ongoing impacts of residential schools. We know there are generations of suffering that can never be erased, but in partnership with Indigenous peoples, we are seeking ways to participate in the reconciliation process and move forward together.

I hosted a town hall on Tuesday, September 28, to mark the day and thank staff and Elders who have shown great courage in sharing their stories. At CSC, we have 1,739 self-declared Indigenous employees and 140 Elders, representing rural and urban Indigenous communities from coast to coast to coast. We benefit greatly from being one of the largest employers of Indigenous peoples in the core public service.

I recognize that reconciliation is an ongoing process and we are grateful for the support and guidance from Indigenous partners in the actions we are taking. I would particularly like to thank our:

for the vital roles they play in the rehabilitation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders.

I am pleased that we recently announced the renewal of agreements to operate healing lodges for federal offenders.

CSC’s collaboration with the Native Counselling Services of Alberta, all Section 81 healing lodges, and the Nekaneet First Nation has been essential in the development and delivery of services to Indigenous offenders that are:

They are essential to helping those in our care and custody build back trust and to reconnect with their culture and their communities.

Celebrating 20 years of CSC’s National Ethnocultural Advisory Committee

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is proud to work with thousands of members of the public in various capacities across our organization. They help CSC fulfill its mandate by bringing a community perspective to our work and contributing to the successful rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders. Identifying and meeting the specific needs and interests of ethnocultural offenders has been a priority for CSC for over 20 years. 

September 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the creation of the National Ethnocultural Advisory Committee (NEAC), endorsed by former CSC Commissioner Lucie McClung. Co-chaired by the late Dr. Emerson Douyon, it was mandated to operate as a group of experts on CSC relations with visible minority groups.

To mark this occasion, CSC has produced an article on our Lets Talk Express platform that I encourage you to read:

Please take a moment to get to know our NEAC members – their bios are featured on our website – and learn more about our accomplishments, featured in a new infographic.

I want to thank all NEAC and REAC members who graciously contribute their time, energy and expertise voluntarily to our organization and the offenders in our care and custody. We look forward to the next 20 years of this important partnership!

Book Clubs for Inmates

Recently we featured the work of Book Club for Inmates in our online Lets Talk Express magazine. I encourage you to read the article and learn more about the book clubs.

This is an incredible volunteer-led organization that supports book clubs in both English and French in 36 of CSC’s institutions across the country through the dedication and commitment of 100 volunteers. Inmates in our care and custody have benefited greatly from this 13-year partnership with BCFI. Thanks to Rev. Dr. Carol Finlay for her vision in getting this initiative started, and to the many talented BCFI volunteers who have given their valued skills and time. Also, we thank BCFI for the thousands of books generously purchased and donated to inmates.

Study of recidivism rates 

Recently, I read a soon-to-be published study of recidivism rates over the past 10 years, and I am very pleased to share some of the positive results. Overall, the number and percentage of federal offenders not readmitted to federal custody within five years of their sentence expiry date has increased over the past ten years from 81.38% in 2011-12 to 87.51% in 2020-21. This speaks to the hard work you do every day, and to your dedication to supporting offenders on their path to rehabilitation. This is what our end goal is. We are committed to helping others turn their lives around, while upholding public safety, and could not do this without the support of our stakeholders. Thank you for your contributions.

National Volunteer Orientation

In my last communique, we included a number of updates on CSC’s volunteer program. I encourage you to revisit that communique, if you missed it.

In addition to the launch of site access status for certain volunteers, I am pleased to announce that the Communications and Engagement (CE) Sector has recently launched the new online National Volunteer Orientation (NVO), now available on CSC’s learning portal. The NVO takes approximately five (5) hours to complete and the course format allows volunteers to learn at their own pace. We have heard from stakeholders that this will make the registration process for volunteers more efficient and timely.

St. Leonard's Society of Canada's (SLSC) Gallagher Award 

This month I was pleased to see that Dan Kunic, Director of the Population Management and Transfers division, was awarded the 2021 St. Leonard's Society of Canada's (SLSC) Gallagher Award. The award recognizes public servants, who as employees of the:

have given exemplary service in furthering the goals, objectives, and overall mission of the SLSC. Dan and his team exemplify the value our organization places on productive partnerships and I am proud that SLSC took this opportunity to recognize them for their service. We cannot do our work alone and we are grateful for the contributions of community partners and stakeholders. 

In closing, while a federal election took place on September 20, we are still operating under the caretaker convention until the Prime Minister appoints his cabinet. This means that we remain restricted to conducting only necessary government business that is:

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