April 7, 2020
The Honourable Bill Blair P.C., M.P.
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Delivered via email: [email protected].ca
Re: Inadequate COVID-19 Preparation and Protocols at Mission Institution
Dear Minister Blair,
As you are aware, this weekend media reported on the positive COVID-19 tests of two inmates at Mission Institution, which Mayor Alexis has confirmed with Correctional Services of Canada officials (letter enclosed). This development poses an increasingly dangerous situation for both inmates and officers, not to mention the surrounding community.
The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO-SACC) has consistently called for the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) to take a more active, versus the current reactive, approach on both longstanding issues and in the present COVID-19 crisis. Our correctional officers already face elevated personal risk in their workplace and deserve to be apprised immediately of any additional dangers and provided with the tools to manage these dangers. Shockingly, CSC is also facing a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) at a time when it is increasingly difficult if not impossible to acquire it. The PPE stockpile issue, I’m told by local officers, is a matter which was raised last year, before COVID-19 became an issue.
Could you please advise the following:
- How will CSC provide the municipal government with updates on the current situation at Mission institution and keep the community safe?
- How will CSC provide immediate notification to personnel if an inmate has tested positive for COVID-19?
- How will additional PPE and testing kits be secured for CSC personnel?
- Will CSC personnel be permitted to wear non-medical masks on the job, as has been suggested to the general public by Dr. Tam of the Public Health Agency of Canada?
Finally, I must echo the statements made by the UCCO-SACC regarding the release of inmates within federal institutions. This sentiment “signals a complete disregard for public safety. The release of a few inmates would not solve the potential spread of COVID-19 in our facilities; it would only increase the risk for Canadians. We need not look further than the recent tragedy in Quebec involving the murder of a citizen by an inmate on day parole to understand that even inmates on conditional release may pose a threat to society.”
Thank you for your attention to these matters.
Brad Vis, MP
ENCL. Correspondence from Mayor Alexis to Warden Huish
Pam Alexis, Mayor, Mission
Simon Gibson, MLA, Abbotsford-Mission
Shawn Huish, Warden, Mission Institution
Hon. Ed Fast, MP, Abbotsford
Mark Strahl, MP, Chilliwack-Hope
Pierre Paul-Hus, MP, Shadow Minister for Public Safety, Border Security and Emergency Preparedness