Op/Ed – Correctional Officers Union Speak Out on Handling Of COVID-19 – Mission Will Test All Inmates – 10 Officers Test Positive

Montreal/Fraser Valley – The response to COVID-19 has been more reactive than proactive by the Correctional Service of Canada.”This is the message that the national president of UCCO-SACC-CSN, Jeff Wilkins, delivered Wednesday during his appearance before the Standing Committee on Health as part of the briefing on the Canadian response to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Union Pressure

Over the last month, UCCO-SACC-CSN, which represents approximately7,400 correctional officers in the 49 federal penitentiaries, has demanded a series of measures to limit the spread of the COVID-19.The confirmation of our initial case at the Port-Cartier Institution in late March added to the urgency to act. “We quickly demanded additional protection in the form of personal protective equipment,that the measures advocated by public health be applied inside the institutions and that virus testing is available for all front-line workers,” said Jeff Wilkins.“Since the beginning of this pandemic,the union has asked to be included in the contingency planning process.Unfortunately, in many institutions, UCCO-SACC-CSN executives were not consulted until the virus had already found its way into the facility”denounces Jeff Wilkins. Fortunately,we are seeing some relief in positive cases in some institutions because of measures that have been implemented.

Fraser Health says it is now involved with testing of all inmates and staff at Mission Institution.

Fraser Health president and CEO Dr. Victoria Lee said she believed the testing would include non-corrections staff such as maintenance workers.

As of April 22, at least 64 inmates and 11 staff at the medium security wing have tested positive. Mission has the highest case of COVID positive tests of all federal prisons.

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