Correctional Service of Canada on its COVID-19 response and the Correctional Investigator’s report


OTTAWA, February 23, 2021 – Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) issued the following statement on its COVID-19 response and the Correctional Investigator’s (OCI) report released today:

“Our COVID-19 approach is based on science and evidence, and has followed public health guidelines and advice every step of the way. We provide our own health care to approximately 12,500 federal inmates. This means we provide essential care for those inmates, including vaccine administration.

Since the start of the pandemic, our number one priority has been the health and safety of our employees, inmates and the public. Every decision we make is based on proven infection prevention and control measures. CSC works very closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and local public health authorities to respond to every aspect of the pandemic. We have rigorous protocols in place that include extensive testing, use of PPE and masks, medical isolation, contact tracing and follow-up. We remain diligent in applying our health and safety measures and are continually communicating with staff and inmates on the importance of applying them.

These have been unprecedented times – not only for Canadians, but for organizations like CSC who continue to operate 24/7 during the pandemic. Managing the effects of this pandemic, considering that correctional institutions are congregate living environments, has required extraordinary measures. Our employees continue to show strength and dedication to keeping up with these measures and working tirelessly, as a team, to prevent and minimize the spread of this virus. Inmates continue to collaborate with staff in following the measures in place and contribute to the COVID-19 response by producing a significant quantity of masks and gowns.

We recognize that vaccinations are also key to preventing spread of the virus. Consistent with National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) guidelines, CSC has vaccinated approximately 600 older offenders prioritized by age and underlying medical conditions. As further supply of the vaccine becomes available, it will be offered to all federal inmates based on NACI prioritization guidance. We expect to be in a position to roll out Phase 2 of vaccinations in the Spring. In the meantime, considerable efforts have been made to closely follow, monitor and treat inmates with underlying medical conditions, which put them at greater risk for a more severe outcome if they contract the virus.

CSC is also partnering with experts and academia to share information and data, and learn about COVID-19. We are working with the Canadian Red Cross to ensure the most rigorous infection prevention and control measures at all of our sites and are participating in a number of studies, including a national serology study led by the Government of Canada COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF). 

As part of our proactive approach, we regularly review our policies and procedures against public health guidelines including those set out by other countries and jurisdictions. CSC is one of the first jurisdictions to adopt rapid testing to help identify positive cases more quickly, treat inmates sooner and take additional measures to prevent the spread of the virus. We are also one of the first jurisdictions to make our inmate testing data widely available online. We have presented our approach to the World Health Organization (WHO), provincial correctional jurisdictions, and other government departments in an effort to share best practices.

While there is always more work to do, CSC has adapted and learned a great deal about the challenges of preventing and containing the COVID-19 virus over the past 11 months. We will continue to make everyone’s safety our top priority as we work to fulfill our mandate during this challenging time.

CSC welcomes recommendations made by the Correctional Investigator and his team. You can read our full response to his recent report and recommendations here.”

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Media Relations
Correctional Service Canada
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