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Response From Commissioner Kelly – COVID-19

Dear Mr. Kulik,

Thank you for your correspondence of April 15, 2020.

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is committed to protecting the safety and health of staff, inmates, and the public during these unprecedented times. CSC employees, especially those who are working in our institutions, on the frontline, and in communities supervising offenders are working tirelessly day in and day out to keep our operations going under exceptional circumstances.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our institutions, CSC has suspended visits from the public and volunteers, as well as all temporary absences, unless medically necessary, work releases, and non-emergency transfers of inmates.

Understanding the impact these measures have on the inmate population, CSC has temporarily waived the food, accommodation and telephone deductions, and maintained the inmates’ level of pay. We recognize that family contact is essential, especially in these challenging times.  As such, we have added additional minutes to the inmates’ phone card and have seen an increase in the number of telephone calls and video-visitation.  We will continue to monitor these measures as the situation unfolds.

To protect our employees, CSC ensures ongoing prevention education and awareness and active screening of all critical staff entering the institutions.  Staff must adhere to all health and safety directions provided, including but not limited to active screening, hand washing before entering the site, physical distancing, cleaning of common areas and equipment, and following public health’s advice when off-duty.  In addition, institutional routines and rosters have been modified to prevent and minimize the spread of the virus within the institution.

CSC has also equipped its correctional staff with the required Personal Protective Equipment, including masks. CSC has enhanced its cleaning protocols, including disinfecting common areas of contact.  When an employee tests positive, CSC works with the local public health authorities to implement a number of measures, such as contact tracing, ensuring self-isolation, testing others as needed, and disinfecting the site. Finally, CSC has implemented its own tracing capability and is working collaboratively with the Public Health Agency of Canada.

To protect inmates, CSC is self-isolating inmates being transferred to federal custody from the province for 14 days, providing them with soap and hand sanitizer, keeping them informed through regular communiques, and working with inmates to review existing treatment plans with a focus on older offenders and those with serious underlying health conditions.  CSC has protocols in place when an inmate tests positive for COVID-19, such as placement in medical isolation in his or her cell or room.  Where required, CSC is providing masks to inmates.  Finally, CSC is also equipped with low oxygen flow equipment to treat milder cases and has established clear protocols and procedures with local hospitals should inmates need to be transferred to those facilities for treatment.

As we move forward, CSC is continuing to actively monitor, plan and engage with health authorities on further precautions we can take to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our institutions and communities to minimize the risks for the public, employees and inmates. We remain in contact with local public health departments across the country so we can stay up-to-date on issues, solutions and best practices.   CSC staff and inmates are identified as priority one for testing, and like all other Canadians, we are tested by local public health authorities.

In regards to the release of offenders, the Criminal Code of Canada and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA) are the legislative frameworks that govern both the eligibility dates of federally sentenced inmates and the requirements for release consideration.  CSC has worked collaboratively with the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) to streamline the case management process and is actively reviewing cases of inmates whose risk can be safely managed in the community for presentation to the PBC.   As noted by the PBC on their website, they will consider the offender’s health or health risk posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, if relevant as part of the risk assessment, along with all other information on file.

In addition, CSC is in regular contact with its community partners, including Community Residential Facilities (CRF), to ensure we work together to address any challenges presented by the current situation. Community Residential Facilities continue to follow public health guidance and we are working to ensure they have the proper supports and resources during this time. CSC is also looking at all options in order to ensure that we are not creating undue accommodation pressures on our CRF partners.  CSC is working with the PBC to ease the pressure on the CRFs during the pandemic, by recommending a change to the residency requirement from a CRF to a home or family environment, where such a placement is risk appropriate.

Please rest assured that CSC takes its mandate very seriously and understands that there is no greater responsibility than having the care and custody of other human beings.

Finally, please note that updates on CSC’s response to COVID-19 are posted on our website.

Hoping you are staying safe and healthy.  Looking forward to our next discussion on an upcoming NAACJ call.

Anne

Anne Kelly
Commissioner / Commissaire
Correctional Service Canada / Service correctionnel du Canada
340 Laurier Ave. West
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0P9
Email / Courriel : AnneKellyCommissioner@csc-scc.gc.ca
Government of Canada / Gouvernement du Canada

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