COVID-19 update for correctional stakeholders: June 9, 2022
This content is a message to Correctional Service Canada's (CSC’s) stakeholders from the Commissioner of CSC.
I hope you are all enjoying the warmer weather and making plans for summer. I recognize some of you may have been impacted by the recent storm that hit:
- Quebec, and
- New Brunswick
I hope everyone is keeping healthy and safe. Below are some recent updates.
Promulgation of new policies
CSC recently published two new policies aimed at increasing the safety of our institutions:
These policies follow extensive consultation with staff and a wide range of:
- experts, and
We are taking a number of actions to prevent and address sexual coercion and violence in our correctional institutions. This new policy provides clear direction on how we respond to incidents, including roles and responsibilities.
We have also published a new policy for gender diverse offenders and their ongoing:
- dignity, and
- human rights
This policy supports staff by defining CSC’s role and responsibilities regarding the:
- care, and
of gender diverse offenders. We are also reviewing the mandatory annual training for staff who interact with offenders, and planning awareness sessions for offenders and staff in collaboration with a community agency that has expertise in gender diversity.
I would like to thank everyone who contributed to developing these new policies. They will strengthen our commitment to reinforcing a culture that promotes safety and takes action against violence or harassment of any kind.
Commissioner’s mandate letter
On May 27, I received a new mandate letter from the Honourable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety. This is the second mandate letter specifically focused on our work at the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC). The first was in 2018, and like this one, represents the Government of Canada’s priorities as they relate to our organization. It helps us to establish key commitments to advance our mission.
First, I am pleased to see the Minister recognize CSC’s collaborative efforts and response to the pandemic. This extends to many of our partners and stakeholders who worked with us on our COVID-19 response and Integrated Risk Management Framework process (IRMF), thank you.
The Minister also recognized the progress achieved since the first mandate letter in 2018. As you know, I am very proud of the work we have done to transform federal corrections, including establishing Structured Intervention Units and instituting a model that better supports the health and mental health needs of offenders. There is more work to do and we remain committed to ongoing improvements to these transformative initiatives. We are also working to implement new contraband control detection equipment, such as body scanners and a new, modern, air-ground intrusion detection system. Collectively, these efforts will make our institutions safer for everyone.
In terms of improving outcomes for Indigenous offenders, we will be creating a new position of Deputy Commissioner for Indigenous Corrections. We also opened Eagle Women’s Lodge, the first Healing Lodge for women in Manitoba, which allows them to receive support in their reintegration closer to home. In addition, CORCAN has also continued to provide exceptional employment and employability related training and services for offenders across the country, including unique on-the-job and vocational training. For example, in addition to direct agreements with Indigenous communities and organizations, CSC is working closely with other Government departments to continue to find additional opportunities to utilize the CORCAN program capacity to help meet the infrastructure needs of Indigenous communities. These client and partnership agreements with CORCAN will also contribute to offenders building employment skills and reducing their risk to recidivate. We have also made enhancements in harm reduction and treatment strategies for those with substance use disorders.
A key theme in this new mandate letter is combatting racism and discrimination, including working with Indigenous communities to increase reintegration opportunities and addressing the overrepresentation of Indigenous people, Black and racialized Canadians interacting with the criminal justice system.
As I mentioned in my message in January, Kirstan Gagnon, Assistant Commissioner of Communications and Engagement, is our executive champion of anti-racism, diversity and inclusion. Edwidge Vincent started on January 31, 2022 as the new Director of Anti-Racism, Diversity and Inclusion. Edwidge has been with CSC since 2009. She has worked as a community parole officer and over the years, has held various management positions in the Operations sector. She has also been involved with the Employment Equity Committee of the Montreal-Metropolitan district for ten years. In addition to building a unit dedicated to our efforts in this area, we continue to establish synergies between other groups at CSC such as:
- the Employment Equity and Diversity Committee, and
- the Black Employees Network
I am proud of the things we accomplished together and thank you, our stakeholders, for your continued contributions and support to meeting our mandate as an organization. This new mandate letter provides an opportunity to reflect on those successes and inspire us to do even better. I encourage you to read the mandate letter.
Victims and Survivors of Crime Week
From May 15 to 21, 2022, Canada will celebrate the courage and resilience of victims of crime during Victims and Survivors of Crime Week. I am proud that CSC provides services to over 8,600 registered victims and survivors of crime, and engages with partners and stakeholders to expand our outreach and promote our National Victim Services Program. Our organization is one that:
- serves all Canadians
- protects victims and their families, and
- creates a safer and stronger Canada for everyone
CSC's National Victim Services Program provides services to victims of crime so they have the information they need to have an effective voice in the federal corrections and conditional release system. I encourage you to read interviews with four CSC Victim Services Officers, which provides a window into their daily work.
Walls to Bridges symposium
Walls to Bridges has been operating in CSC’s institutions for years, with the first W2B course was taught at Grand Valley Institution in September 2011. In January, Tam Le, a minimum-security offender at Stony Mountain Institution, presented at a virtual Walls to Bridges educational program symposium where he discussed the study he had co-authored with a University of Winnipeg professor, Dr. Judith Harris. The study is intended to help incarcerated people better understand the benefits of community. As Tam highlighted in his presentation, education is a positive way for offenders to improve themselves and their employment opportunities when they return to the community.
International Day of Families
Families are an integral part of our society. May 15 is the International Day of Families, which is an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase the knowledge of the:
- economic, and
processes affecting families. CSC is proud to partner with the Canadian Families and Corrections Network (CFCN) on a number of important initiatives, including their Family Resource Centre and the Dad HERO (Helping Everyone Realize Opportunities) project. During the pandemic, CSC supported CFCN to deliver more than 6,000 letter writing kits for inmates in all of our institutions. To learn more, visit:
Learn more about Dad HERO from the recent CBC radio documentary:
First CAC Appreciation Day
During National Volunteer Week, we celebrated the first annual Citizen Advisory Committees (CAC) Appreciation Day. The theme From challenges to creativity: celebrating CAC resiliency, highlights their continued efforts to:
- liaise, and
even in the face of challenges presented by the pandemic.
CAC members interact with:
- managers, as well as
- the public
They are a two-way communication link between CSC and the community, and other stakeholders in the criminal justice system. They share concerns, help address misconceptions, and encourage community involvement. A big thank you to the committee members for their continued commitment and dedication. Their role is especially important during a crisis.
The 2021 recipient of the James A. Murphy (CAC) Award is Benoît Roy from the Quebec Region. Congratulations to all of the nominees from the other regions who demonstrated exemplary:
- drive, and
in advancing the CAC initiative.
Learn more about the:
Canada’s Penitentiary Museum
In May, the Penitentiary Museum in Kingston, Ontario re-opened to the public for the first time in two years. It houses a collection of artifacts from across the country. The museum, now located in the old warden’s home, opened in 1967 for Canada’s centennial. Before the pandemic, the museum received about 45,000 visitors annually. We are now creating a virtual museum, so all Canadians can view our collection. I encourage you to visit the museum if you get a chance.
In closing, June 1st was CSC Appreciation Day. We have extended the celebration to the entire month of June to thank our:
- partners, and
for their hard work. The pandemic has presented many challenges for us but we are thankful for everyone’s continued:
- dedication, and
Corrections requires the collaboration of so many. Thank you for your support in how we work to change lives and protect Canadians.
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