As of April 12, there are now 35 inmates at Mission Medium Institution who have tested positive for COVID-19.
According to Correctional Service of Canada statistics, Mission and the Pacific Regional Treatment Centre, are the only federal institution in B.C. with positive results. The Pacific centre has one positive test.
Mission has 35 positive results, six negative results and 13 tests pending for a total of 54 inmates tested.
The 35 positive results is the highest number in any federal prison in Canada. Quebec’s Joliette Institution has 17 positive tests and Port-Cartier Institution, also in Quebec, has 10. Ontario’s Grand Valley Institution for Women has eight.
In total, Canadian federal prisons have 76 confirmed cases of Covid-19, 200 negative tests and 23 tests pending..
A lockdown is now in place at the medium security unit at Mission Institution as a precautionary measure.
According to a press release from the institution staff are “closely and carefully following direction from public health officials, while following strict protocols to avoid further spread in the institution.”
It goes on to say “in addition to a number of measures implemented across the country in all of our institutions, Mission Institution has implemented enhanced cleaning, as well as twice-daily checks of symptomatic inmates (more often as necessary, dependent on medical requirements) and once-daily checks of asymptomatic inmates by nursing staff. Meals are brought to inmates’ cells and a hygiene routine has been implemented to mitigate risk to the offender population.”
Mission Mayor Pam Alexis released a statement about the outbreak on the district website.
“The news of cases of COVID-19 at Mission Medium Institution is deeply concerning. This is not only a serious public health issue for the inmates on lockdown and the staff working there, but is a great concern for the staff who are residents of Mission and have families at home and go about their lives within the community,” Alexis wrote.
” Since Monday, myself, District staff and MP Brad Vis have been requesting more information from Corrections Canada about the protocols they have in place to contain this outbreak and keep everyone safe. Corrections Canada staff have reached out to us and we are confident that the appropriate health experts are involved and appropriate measures to control the outbreak, including a full lockdown, are in place. Of critical importance is that these measures include actions that staff must take to protect their families and the outside community.”
The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO-SACC-CSN) has confirmed that no correctional officer have tested positive at Mission, or in the Pacific Region.
The union also said that surgical masks will now be available to all correctional officers in the 49 institutions. Correctional officers will be supplied a surgical mask to wear when social distancing measures cannot be met. Masks will soon be made available to the inmate population.
However, according to an email sent by the union, “mask supplies are still a concern for our 7,400 members and we are working hard to make sure correctional officers have access to all the appropriate PPE to perform their work in these difficult circumstances.”
The Union is also asking that measures are taken as soon as a case of COVID-19 is confirmed, including:
- Putting institutions in locked down to prevent any further spread while Public Health Agency of Canada and CSC officials conduct contact tracing;
- Only correctional officers who did not have any contact with those who tested positive are reporting for duty;
- Medical staff are taking the temperature of all employees when they enter the institution for all shifts.
The union has also requested that the federal government “act now to provide each federal institution with an adequate supply of test kits for the purpose of testing critical staff members who have been determined to be at risk through the contact tracing process.”