Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Human and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Lavoie

Advisor Role

Associate professor

Second Advisor

Dr. Daniel Antonowicz

Advisor Role

Associate professor


This national survey research project examined the experiences of Canadian correctional officers (COs) in providing essential correctional services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study sampled COs from several provinces across Canada (N=596) to better understand how the pandemic impacted stress and wellbeing of this population by exploring seven constructs including resiliency, workplace safety, changes in role or responsibilities, work stress, COVID- 19 related stress, perceived support, and positive mental health. The transactional model of stress and coping and the biopsychosocial model of stress were used as theoretical frameworks to investigate stress responses among COs. Respondents reported significant changes to their role and responsibilities due to COVID-19, and experienced elevated levels of work stress and COVID-19 related stress. While COs received high levels of support from family and the community, and moderate support from peers, they reported low levels of support from supervisors. Responses were highly varied regarding concerns about workplace safety during COVID-19 and about the COVID-19 safety precautions implemented at work in correctional settings across the nation. COs reported moderate levels of positive mental health with high levels of resiliency. Hierarchical multiple regression modelling indicated that higher self- and household-risk for COVID-19, greater perceived changes to job responsibilities, increased work stress, lowered perceived workplace safety, fewer implemented workplace safety precautions, and greater support from supervisors resulted in higher levels of COVID-19 stress. A second hierarchical multiple regression model demonstrated that higher levels of global and work stress, and lower levels of physical health, resulted in lower levels of positive mental health, while higher levels of family support, community support, and perceived dangerousness in the workplace, resulted in greater levels of PMH. The results of this study contribute to the emerging literature that examines the global impacts of COVID-19. Specifically, the study has implications for policy planning for the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic and for future pandemic planning to lessen the negative impacts on COs’ wellbeing.

Convocation Year


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