COVID-19 update for correctional stakeholders: July 21, 2023

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

As we have made our way into the summer season, I hope that you are planning to take time for yourselves. Unfortunately, along with the change in temperature, there have continued to be a large number of wild fires all throughout Canada that are having devastating effect on many of our communities. My thoughts are with everyone during these challenging times.

Below are just some of the key events and updates since my last message.

Review into the security reclassification and transfer of a high profile offender

Yesterday, I announced the findings of the review into Paul Bernardo’s security reclassification and transfer. The review committee, which included external representation, was asked to ensure this decision was compliant with the law, policies and procedures that guide our work. I am thankful to the review committee, who has done their work with diligence in a short timeframe. The review committee concluded that the decisions to reclassify Paul Bernardo to medium and transfer him to La Macaza were sound, and followed all applicable laws and policies.

It also noted that, even though CSC went above policy in this case to notify victims, additional steps could have been taken to provide more information.

As such, the review committee made two recommendations around victims, which I fully accept. They recommended that:

In Canada, our correctional system is fundamentally based on the rehabilitation of offenders. This is our legislated mandate. We are constantly balancing many factors, including public safety risks, safe, secure and humane treatment, and victim rights. And we must get that balance right. We are committed to carrying out our responsibilities with the highest level of integrity and professionalism.

A big thank you to all of you for your support and to those of you who have taken the opportunity in the last few weeks to raise awareness about the way the federal correctional system works, including the legislative framework that governs it. You are all experts in your field and your viewpoints are important.

Executive Changes at CSC

It was with mixed emotions that I announced that Alain Tousignant, Senior Deputy Commissioner, retired from the Correctional Service Canada (CSC). Alain was instrumental in many different ways in helping CSC to achieve its goal of "Changing Lives, Protecting Canadians".  He was an active member of the Executive Committee and has been a key contributor to helping develop a strong senior executive team within our organization.

Jay Pyke, Assistant Commissioner, Human Resource Management is currently acting as the Senior Deputy Commissioner.

We welcomed Guy Morissette on July 4 as the new Assistant Commissioner, Human Resource Management. Guy is a seasoned executive with experience in the fields of strategic policy and program development, operations, stakeholder engagement, and corporate services. Prior to joining CSC in July 2023, Guy was the Director General responsible for Regional Operations and Compliance at the Labour Program at Employment and Social Development Canada from 2020 to 2023.

As well, after 29 years with CSC, Alessandria Page, Regional Deputy Commissioner, Quebec Region, retired. Alessandria was a valued member of the Executive Committee and an active trainer of both Crisis Management and Values and Ethics for CSC. As the National Diversity Champion for Women Employees, Alessandria was a role model to other women at CSC looking to move into the executive ranks. In 2012, she was the recipient of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal for her significant contribution to Canada. She was also the recipient of the Corrections Exemplary Service Medal. She was a distinguished and appreciated colleague, supervisor, and mentor, and will be missed.

Community Engagement in Structured Intervention Units (SIUs)

In an effort to increase awareness, understanding and engagement within the Structured Intervention Units (SIUs), institutions have opened their doors to community stakeholders to increase community supports and networks for offenders in SIUs and enhance opportunities for them to interact with others.

As most of you know, positive connections to the community can be the difference in someone’s efforts towards successful rehabilitation and reintegration.

New Menu in Institutions

In May, CSC launched its new National Menu for inmates. This menu offers more variety and new items to replace some of the least popular items. The National Grocery List for the Small Group Meal Plan program has also been revised to increase the variety of spice blends, cuts of meat, fish, and vegetarian options.

The National Menu, reviewed annually, meets the nutritional requirements of inmates, and is supported by a registered dietitian. This helps ensure that we are providing food adequate in quality, and quantity to support the well-being of those in our care.

Offender Appreciation Art and Poetry

​This year, for National Volunteer Week in April, offenders were invited to submit art and poetry to thank volunteers for their support. I encourage you to view the art and poetry offenders submitted to thank volunteers for their important support. 

Community supports and stakeholders are valued partners who help support our mandate and make an important difference inside CSC institutions and in the community.

Revised Guidelines 800-9 – Medical Assistance in Dying

​​​The following guidelines were updated as a result of a legislative change with regard to who is eligible to receive Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID). Staff and contractors involved in the MAID process or in providing health care services to individuals requesting MAID are affected by these policy changes.

Anijaarniq Holistic Inuit Strategy

CSC has revitalized the Anijaarniq Holistic Inuit Strategy in response to recommendations from the 2021 inquest into the death in custody of an Inuk offender. Anijaarniq refers to traditional Inuit wayfinding, a morning practice where Inuit observe weather, wind, and stars to plan for the coming day.

The Strategy’s vision is for Inuit to have the support and resources they need to return and remain in their communities as contributing members of their families and society. Read more about the strategy:

James A. Murphy Award Recipient

CSC recognizes and appreciates the important role and dedication of the hundreds of Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) members who observe, liaise and advise in our institutions and parole offices in support of CSC’s mandate. 

In April, Eddy Elmer was the recipient of the James A. Murphy Award for exemplifying commitment, drive and leadership. Eddy is also the new Regional CAC Chair for the Pacific Region. Other nominees included the local CAC members at Dorchester Penitentiary in the Atlantic Region, and Christian Drouin from the Longueil CAC in the Quebec Region. I would like to extend my congratulations to Eddy and all of the other nominees. Thank you for your contributions to CSC!

Learn more about the James A. Murphy CAC Award and the important work of the CACs.

Intersections Magazine

In 2022, Black, Indigenous and other racialized individuals at William Head Institution developed the Intersections Magazine with curated art and poetry from William Head and beyond. The result was a vibrant print and digital magazine with thought-provoking and vivid selections. In 2023, the magazine expanded nationally and is available online in both English and French:

I am proud of the work that these individuals have done and truly appreciate the efforts made by staff to support this project, as well as the invaluable contribution of our community partner, the Nanaimo African Heritage Society.

Indigenous Programs Building at La Macaza

La Macaza Institution, in Quebec, has a new Indigenous Programs Building shaped like an eagle in flight. The building received an award for the collaboration between CSC’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff, Elders and stakeholders in its design and construction. You can read more about the impressive building created by an award-winning partnership in Let's Talk Express:

Thank you to all those that contributed.

Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence.

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