OTTAWA, Sept. 28, 2011 /CNW Telbec/ - Imagine if a reality of your job
was to have a cupful of excrement, urine, or other bodily fluids thrown
in your face. To be bitten, scratched or spit upon. To be stabbed with
These are common work-related incidents for federal correctional
officers. And it's why the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers
(UCCO-SACC-CSN) is calling for a federal Blood Samples Act, something
the Conservative Party of Canada promised to implement more than five
"We've waited long enough," said Pierre Mallette, national president of
UCCO-SACC-CSN. "Our penitentiaries are becoming more crowded and more
dangerous. It's time to act."
A growing phenomenon among the current offender population concerns
attacks on correctional officers and other staff with bodily fluids:
feces, urine, semen, blood or saliva. Correctional officers report
organic-liquid attacks on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis.
Given the astronomical rates of infectious disease among inmates in
federal penitentiaries, these attacks are potentially life-threatening.
The prevalence of Hepatitis C in Canadian federal penitentiaries
(17%-40%) is estimated to be 20 to 50 times higher than among the
general Canadian population (0.8%), while HIV rates are 5 to 40 times
higher (1%-8% vs. 0.2%). (Source: Public Health Agency of Canada, April
"Officers view assaults with disease-infected bodily fluids as nothing
less than an assault with a deadly weapon," noted Pierre Mallette.
For inmates, however, it is clear that attacks with bodily fluids are a
consequence-free method of assaulting officers. In some cases, these
attacks are used by inmates to force a transfer from a unit that may
house a threat or in order to flee a debt from gambling or drugs.
"This kind of assault is no less devastating than an attack with a
traditional weapon. This form of attack is certainly an effective way
to humiliate and degrade the victim," said Mallette.
Correctional officers have no way of knowing whether they have been
exposed to a life-threatening disease. Victims may participate in a
drug-treatment protocol (the Post-Exposure Protocol, or "PEP"), but
this usually leads to severe and debilitating side effects and long
periods away from the workplace. The damage to family life and
relationships is enormous.
Often an inmate may be disease-free, removing the need to participate in
drug treatment. But unless the inmate volunteers for a blood test, an
unlikely scenario, officers remain in the dark.
For these reasons, UCCO-SACC-CSN strongly urges the Government of Canada
to enact a Blood Samples Act, along the lines of legislation already
passed by several provincial governments. The law would require inmates
who engage in bodily-fluid attacks or who otherwise contaminate CSC
staff to submit to a simple blood test to reveal his or her medical
status. By itself, this practice would largely negate the incentive for
some inmates to resort to assaults with bodily fluids.
For further information:
Lyle Stewart, CSN communications, 514 796-2066