Update on COVID-19 Testing and Port-Cartier Institution

News release

March 30, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario – Correctional Service Canada

Public health has confirmed that two inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 at Port-Cartier Institution in Quebec, a maximum-security facility. These are the first confirmed cases related to inmates in a federal correctional institution.

Prior to the two inmates being diagnosed, nine employees who work at the same institution also tested positive for COVID-19. All of these employees are in isolation at home and are following direction from local health officials. As soon as a positive result was reported for one employee last week, additional people were tested based on public health contact tracing, which led to the early detection of these other cases.

These two inmates are being medically isolated from the general inmate population and the institution has been on lockdown as a precautionary measure. We are closely and carefully following direction from public health officials and monitoring these inmates, while following strict protocols to avoid further spread. We have dedicated health care in our institutions with nurses and doctors on hand to monitor and assess any inmates who develop symptoms.

To date, CSC has taken a number of preventative measures in all of its operations across the country. In addition to those, and to prevent further spread at Port-Cartier, the following measures were put in place:

  • Notified all individuals who may have come in contact with those who tested positive;

  • Immediately cleaned the institution, including thoroughly disinfecting all high-touch surfaces in addition to existing enhanced cleaning measures;

  • Temporarily implemented the use of masks for workers on site;

  • Enhanced our active screening of anyone who must enter the institution, including taking the temperature of everyone working at the site for the duration of the outbreak; and

  • Reinforced prevention measures, such as physical distancing, hygiene practices and having everyone self-monitor their health. 

As an added health and safety measure, we continue to suspend visits to inmates, all temporary absences (unless medically necessary), work releases for offenders and all inter-regional and international transfers of inmates. We also have suspended programming, non-essential work in our institutions and have implemented modified routines to limit comings and goings.

As we continue our critical work to uphold public safety during this time, we will monitor the situation closely and continue to work with public health authorities, our employees and unions to ensure that appropriate measures are in place for the ongoing protection and safety of our employees and inmates.


Quick facts

    • As of March 28, 2020, 50 tests were conducted on inmates in institutions with 45 negative, two positive and three are pending.


    • CSC protocol involves medically isolating inmates who show symptoms of COVID-19. This promptly isolates them from the general inmate population to prevent the spread of infection.


    • If employees are tested, they do so in their communities. As soon as we are advised of a positive test, we engage with local public health to implement a number of measures such as trace managing any contacts the employee had, ensuring self-isolation, working with public health regarding further testing required and disinfecting the site.


    • CSC takes immediate action when an employee is symptomatic, including thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the space and ensuring the employee self isolates at home until cleared to return to work.


    • CSC has preventative measures in place including hygiene precautions, which include hand hygiene, cleaning, disinfecting, and proper laundry and waste disposal processes

    • Given inmate visits have been suspended, CSC has waived telephone, accommodation and food deductions for inmates and added minutes to their phone accounts. This will help them continue connecting with their family and support networks. We will continue to reassess these measures on an ongoing basis as we navigate this public health situation. 

Associated links


Media Relations
Correctional Service Canada

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