City of Ottawa Anti-Racism Secretariat: Action Planning Survey

This survey notes that the secretariat is seeking linkages with people and groups.  A useful step for integrating our community and systems.

Action Planning Survey

The focus of this survey and other ARS public engagements is less on identifying needs and consulting with residents, as that has been thoroughly undertaken through past City efforts. The focus instead is upon engaging with communities to identify actions to address and challenge systemic racism in the City.

Link to the survey and Secretariat outreach:

Ottawa Area OASW Monthly Supper Club launches virtually

Lynn Sherwood will be hosting and topics are open.

To get rolling, icebreakers and conversation starters may be used to facilitate interaction and networking via the digital/virtual format. People will have an opportunity to share their contact information if they would like to stay in touch with one another. Post-pandemic the monthly group will choose restaurants in the Ottawa area.  All are encouraged to support local restaurants. 

The event is free and open to all social workers in the region. 

Wednesday, March 3 at 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Registration Link:

Keith Adamson in video below  briefly talks on the professional value of social worker’s associating. 

Don’t be put off by the ” “board” part of this post!

Deinstitutionalization is examined at an international level by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Tina Minkowitz, Esq. of the Center for the Human Rights of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry in this article frames the initiative through a reparations approach and includes a call for sharing the experience. It also helps us to think more about current practices of institutionalization despite all of our intentions on community based care.  I know many groups in Ontario have been working to shine a light on this, even in recent years, in the context of homelessness and housing etc. 

Does anyone know if here in Ottawa they are linking with this report?

… The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has announced a series of regional consultations on deinstitutionalization, starting with one for Central Asia and Eastern Europe on February 25 and a second for Central and South America on March 1.  The other regions will follow.  You can read all the details in an information note here.

This is an important opportunity for survivors of psychiatric oppression (if you are still alive and struggling as a current victim, I consider you a survivor, along with those who have gotten out) and our allies to make sure we are heard.

Victim’s perspective or system’s perspective?

Too often ‘deinstitutionalization’ has meant community-based mental health services, instead of freedom and acceptance, instead of recognition that we return from hell as survivors, that ‘survivor’ isn’t a euphemism.  Deinstitutionalization initiatives tend to take a service-provider point of view, seeking to rearrange their own territory in response to criticism of severe and egregious abuses.  We need instead to start from the perspective of victimized persons, acknowledging that the human rights violations go wide and deep, that they are systemic and cannot be rooted out unless we unseat the ‘service providers’ who have as a class been the perpetrators of these violations from directing repair.  Similar to the approach of feminists who insist on the personhood of female human beings – autonomous, not the negation of males or their perspectives but something entirely different – we need to start as victims of psychiatric oppression, looking at our reality – as individuals as collectively in our countries, localities, communities – and naming both the violations and what we want as remedies.

Of course our movement has been doing this since its beginnings, and we now have the excellent resource from our early days as a liberation movement, …

Please see the article here:


Announcement of reunification between OASW and CASW

…We are very pleased to announce that our work to elevate our voice includes rejoining the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) as a federation partner effective April 1, 2021. The reunification of OASW with the national federation is exceptionally exciting, as OASW will unite with social work associations across Canada to promote our profession, increase our impact on provincial and federal policy efforts, and provide additional resources to OASW members. …

…Effective April 1, 2021, the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW) will once again be a federation partner of CASW!The reunification of OASW to the national federation is exceptionally welcomed as CASW will once again have partner organization representation in every province and territory in Canada except for Quebec. … 

After nigh on a decade, these two leading Canadian social work organizations have realigned themselves to advance our profession’s knowledge and values.  The fracture had centred around several provincial social work associations (Ontario and Alberta and Quebec earlier) withdrawing from the nationally focused social work organization Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW).  The break was framed as CASW not effectively advancing the profession of social work by the two associations, for Quebec, nationalism was key.  Of course the provincial associations had some important points, though some thought, “follow the money,” as the funding for CASW came from provincial bodies.

Many of us from the Eastern Branch OASW advocated that a federal focus on policy was critical for the profession.   While there are various perspectives that can be brought to bear on federal and provincial view of the profession, generally the OASW Eastern Branch’s was based on our perhaps Ottawa centric view of social policy verses the OASW provincial office Toronto centric view.

I can’t pretend to know in any depth the ins and outs of it all but let’s just say at this time a decade ago, a lot of talk and presentations of evidence and experience occurred along with tangible and visionary aims for social work were shared.  One example of the energy at the time is that this website got launched and brought together various perspectives from across the country.  Although the ideals behind using social media to dialogue about our profession and governance didn’t actually move to an interactive conversation between parties, for example I had to use official statements from the OASW, yet important things were said and there was a record of sorts. 

Below are some samples of posts:


SWAG talk by Ioanna Genovezoson: Emergency Management and Senior Care in Ottawa Hospitals

From Wendy Birkhan, on behalf of Social Work in Aging and Gerontology, Steering Committee SWAG
, “Lots happening but we will put it all in one email for your convenience. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.”
Please note, this  includes getting the zoom links to SWAG meetings via:

Topic: Geriatric Emergency Management and Senior Care in Ottawa Hospitals

Thursday January 21st – 3:30 to 5PM on Zoom

Speaker: Ioanna Genovezos, Program Manager of the Geriatric Emergency Management of The Ottawa Hospital

Ioanna Genovezos, Masters in Nursing, will provide an overview of the Geriatric Emergency Management program, discuss senior friendly initiatives within the Emergency department at the Ottawa Hospital and highlight new challenges when dealing with older adults presenting to the Emergency Department during the pandemic of COVID-19.

General Upcoming Events:

  • RIAF Webinar: Canadian Guidelines on Substance Use Disorders Among Older Adults – January 12, 2021 | 12pm
  • Regional Geriatric Rounds Webinar: Planning for Older Persons’ Care in Ontario – January 18, 2021 | 8am – FREE
  • Webinar: Ethical Telehealth in the Time of Covid-19 – Monday January 18, 2021 | 1-3pm
  • Education Day 2021: Wisdom & Innovation in Hospice Palliative Care – March 10, 2021 | 9-4pm
  • Canadian Geriatrics Society (CGS)Annual Scientific Meeting – May 13-15, 2021

“How We Helped,” 85 years of the Eastern Branch of the Ontario Association of Social Workers

With the 2021 reconfiguration of branch governance of the Ontario Association of Social Workers OASW resulting in the closing of branch boards, a historical review of the Eastern Branch’s role in advancing our profession was commissioned.  The five-part documentary communicates the Eastern Branch’s efforts to develop our profession and make relevant the principles and values of social work to community and Canadian society.

The podcasts provide a historical context to inform future milestones for our profession.

Part 1 – Growing our Practice: Education, Professionalization, & the Fight for Recognition

In the first part of How We Helped, we explore the Eastern Branch’s early days, its contributions to social work educational programs in Ottawa, and the push for certification and the establishment the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Services Workers.

Part 2 – A Human Touch: The People of Social Work

In this episode, we try to answer two key questions: who goes into social work? And what motivates them throughout their career?

Part 3 – Strength in Numbers: Building a Social Work Community

In this episode, we talk about the Eastern Branch’s role in creating a community of social work in the region and the support provided to members.

Part 4 – The Desire to Help: The Eastern Branch and Social Issues

In this episode, we explore how social workers in Eastern Ontario have addressed some of the biggest social issues over the past 85 years.

Part 5 – Raising our Voice: Advocacy and the Eastern Branch

In this episode, we explore the Eastern Branch’s advocacy efforts and some of their most effective advocacy strategies

Listen to the podcasts here:

A Discussion on the roots of Housing First, brings us back to “Out of the Shadows” – Mental Health Commission’s Recommendations

Take 45 minutes to pause and think about our systems of care with the talk’s sharp focus on the intervention itself.  The discussion got me thinking of: the recovery model; our categories of who fits into what program of care; mental health care’s forms of intervention; and what ever happened to the Mental Health Commission’s Recommendations and its whole system, whole country recommendations guide?

The “fireside chat,” helps us step into a “new year,” and made me want to know more about the implementation plans of health and social reforms occouring in Ontario and our city.  The vision of initiatives such as Health Teams have the mission to incorporate, health and the social determinants of health. It would be useful to concretize the various plans: disability reform, housing, mental health care, homelessness, population based care and weave the implementation steps to make coherent to clients, families, frontline providers, managers.

Does anyone know who is doing this?

A discussion with Dr. Sam Tsemberis, the founder of Housing First,  who joins Alex Smith, Housing First England’s Senior Project Manager.

Please see the Webinar here:

Sam and

Just to share the commission’s work:

Out of the Shadows at Last: Transforming Mental Health, Mental Illness and Addiction Services in Canada

chapter shadows

A focus on systemic problems of Customary Care for Indigenous Peoples in Child Welfare: The Death Report

In the early 1980’s here in Ontario child welfare legislation was developed to address the genocidal systemic racist activities of Children’s Aid Societies, “the sixties scoop,” and earlier legacy of  Residential Schools on First Nations People.  Customary Care was the core component of the Child and Family Services Act to address this and has been amended over the decades since.   These efforts to address the system level perpetuation of our everyday racism and destruction of Indigenous Peoples have not ultimately addressed the core structures needed to support First Nations.   This is after decades of struggle and scattered policy report milestones including: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women; Residential School Reconciliation and The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.

The Death Report, completed by Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN)  reporters: Cullen Crozier and Kenneth Jackson opens a lense on one example of child welfare care occurring now here in Ontario.   This investigative report helps us all to consider more deeply engaging with organizations and the policy structures that will strengthen First Nations Peoples and push the rest of us in the broader society to address the systemic of our racism.

It starts with a hard truth.

“Since 2013, 178 Indigenous children have died and 147 are tied to First Nation child welfare agencies in Ontario.”

Here is a trailer about the investigation

This investigative report is extensive with articles and documentation on the story.

Please go to the story here:

Part One:

Part Two:

Some coaching on virtual communications

Stephen Downes provides a useful hour to help us practically approach our use of virtual technology.  While an expert on community learning online, he is one of those experts who merrily lays out his mistakes along the way.  A good example of use of self, in the virtual dance and I think will bring us along to making virtual, more real. While the focus is on virtual teaching, it is rich in transferable knowledge to virtual … care.

He suggests key is to have our virtual activities aimed towards the community.

Please see the presentation here:

Here is some learning theory and philosophy when using the technolgy by Stephen Downes 

Everyday health care practice in law, policy, research and governance: bridging to practice change

The University of Ottawa Centre for Health Care Law, Policy and Ethics is working to open the dialogue on health care and practice change, which may well help us with system level change.  One effort is to have open presentations that bridge and explain the dynamics between our laws, policy and practice, shared and recorded via virtual presentations. 

I think the law is a much more dynamic and evolving guide to practice than most of us realize.  When I say realize, I know we know, about the rule of law, but seldom do many of us on the frontlines, even directors and CEO’s have a sense we are able to enter this level of our systems of society and nudge or influence it.  The centre aims to demonstrate to us how evolving court cases, research can be bridged to our regulatory colleges, policy guidelines that land at our organizations.

… Innovation in medicine offers tremendous hope. But it requires similar innovation in governance—in law, policy, and ethics—for society to fully realize the fruits and avoid the pitfalls. For example, how can we incorporate tomorrow’s AI technology into healthcare while avoiding accidental bias and discrimination? Can we apply insights from neuroscience to improve our criminal justice system for cases where mental illness is a factor? And as long as the list of tomorrow’s challenges is, there are as many gaps and shortfalls in what we already have: Many Canadians die waiting for organ transplants each year yet most people are not registered donors. Pathogens will inevitably out-evolve our current antibiotics and we aren’t developing new ones fast enough. The list goes on…

Please check out some of their presentations here:

Bridging to on the ground care and organizational practice

I as many of you, struggle each day with how we communicate within and between organizational systems.  These researchers take an important step to address this in the context of homelessness services in this article: Legal, geographic and organizational contexts that shape knowledge sharing in the hospital discharge process for people experiencing homelessness in Toronto, Canada Jesse I. R. Jenkinson Carol Strike Stephen W. Hwang Erica Di Ruggiero

…  We find that within the legal context of health information protection, the concept of “circle of care” has created barriers to knowledge sharing between hospitals and shelters by excluding shelter workers from discharge planning. We note, however, that the degree to which hospital workers have navigated these barriers and brought shelter workers into the discharge process varies across hospitals. …

I’m going to pitch this to the Centre and the article researchers and see what might evolve as it would be useful to bring in more of a law interpretation and at least get a greater sense of the evolving law on circle of care.  I say evolve because for sure law and care is in “process.” I also realize I may well be simply wishing or dreaming that this ongoing struggle of communications in health care can be effectively addressed, given the… mixed success track record.