COVID-19 Preparedness and plans

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Organization: Correctional Service Canada

Date published: 2020-03-30

General approach

  • Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is focusing its efforts on minimizing the risk of introducing COVID-19 to institutions, Community Correctional Centres and workplaces. This includes CSC’s active planning in early identification, containment and appropriate treatment should the virus be introduced to one of CSC’s sites.
  • CSC has strengthened infection prevention procedures to protect staff, offenders, volunteers and the public.
  • CSC is actively engaging experts on public health and infection prevention to guide our response.

Governance

  • Public Safety Minister is on Special Cabinet Committee on COVID-19 response.
  • CSC’s National Medical Advisor is on the Federal, Provincial and Territorial (FPT) Special Advisory Committee reporting to the FPT conference of Deputy Ministers of Health.
  • CSC is represented on the Logistics Advisory Committee organized by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
  • CSC is actively engaged with local public health departments who are responsible for COVID-19 testing and tracing.
  • CSC is conducting regular meetings with PHAC.
  • Local hospitals will provide care for offenders if the medical care required exceeds CSC’s capacity.
  • CSC is actively working with its National Medical Advisory Committee to provide clinical leadership.
  • CSC is communicating frequently with inmates and inmate committees through wardens and management. CSC is also engaged with unions at every level.

Health services

  • CSC is working to increase capacity at health centres to manage more complex health needs.
  • CSC is hiring additional health professionals where feasible to deliver essential health services.
  • CSC is establishing clear protocols and procedures with local hospitals for when inmates will be transferred for care.
  • CSC is expanding access to health care for inmates to address essential health care needs.
  • CSC is working with inmates to review existing treatment plans with a focus on older offenders and those more vulnerable due to pre-existing underlying health conditions.
  • When necessary, CSC is temporarily suspending some less urgent health services, consistent with community practice. This includes dental and optometry services, except urgent care.  
  • Where feasible, CSC is increasing telemedicine.
  • CSC has established processes and procedures to disseminate key scientific and health literature specific to COVID-19 to all health professionals.
  • CSC is consulting with medical ethicists to review clinical decision-making.

Infection prevention and control

  • CSC has well-established infection prevention guidelines.
  • CSC is educating staff and offenders on the prevention and the spread of illness, including the importance of good hygiene practices.
  • CSC is enhancing cleaning practices at all sites.
  • CSC is working with an Infections Prevention and Control Specialist to continue to review our practices and procedures.

Supplies and facilities

  • CSC has taken full inventory of existing personal protective equipment supplies.
  • As part of the FPT effort, CSC has worked with PHAC to purchase additional supplies.
  • CSC is working with pharmaceutical industry to ensure sufficient supply of medications.
  • CSC is distributing additional soap, cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer to inmates and staff.
  • CSC is actively screening all persons entering CSC institutions, including staff and offenders.
  • CSC has postponed all non-essential entry and activities within CSC sites. Access to institutions is available to those performing critical services, such as medical and mental health, food services and cleaning services.

Workforce

  • Only critical staff who cannot work from home due to the nature of their duties are in the workplace.
  • To minimize the risk of exposure to institutional staff, CSC has minimized the comings and goings into institutions.
  • CSC institutions have reviewed their operations and adjusted their routines, where feasible, in order to reduce staffing demands and promote risk mitigation efforts.
  • CSC has implemented mandatory employee self-isolation for 14 days for all returning international travellers and employees living with people who travelled internationally.
  • CSC is reinforcing the importance of hand washing, social distancing, cough etiquette and other key public health messages.
  • CSC has postponed all non-essential, in-person staff training. Exceptions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Offenders

  • CSC has suspended visits to offenders, temporary absences (except for medical escorts) and work releases. CSC is supporting inmates staying connected to family and community by video visitation or telephone, as well as looking at additional measures to maintain the calm in institutions.
  • CSC has waived telephone, accommodation and food deductions for inmates, and has provided additional minutes on their phone accounts. This will help them to continue connecting with family, friends, and support networks.
  • All inter-regional and international transfers of inmates have been suspended.
  • CSC is increasing supply of medication for offenders on release to reduce the burden of the health care system and provide offenders with more time before visiting a pharmacy or seeing their physician.
  • CSC is actively screening offenders in CSC institutions upon arrival.
  • CSC has asked legal counsel to postpone visiting institutions and maintain access by telephone. Case-by-case accommodation will be facilitated, where essential.

Community operations

  • Public safety is the foundation of everything we do at CSC.
  • CSC has provided flexibility to parole officers and program officers to adapt their supervision strategies to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission, while continuing to supervise offenders.
  • CSC has engaged its community partners, including Community-Based Residential Facilities, to address challenges currently being faced.
  • CSC is communicating with victims through the Victims Portal, the CSC Web site page, and social media.
  • CSC is also reaching out to victims to advise them of cancellations of UTAs, ETAs and Work Releases.
  • Presently, CSC is meeting all obligations to provide services to victims.

CSC’s core mandate of maintaining public safety and safely managing offenders continues during this public health crisis.

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