Here is a communique sent to OASW members from the executive director of OASW – Joan Mackenzie Davis

Here is a communique sent to OASW members from the executive director of OASW – Joan Mackenzie Davis

OASW Communiqué to Members

Related to the One-Year Suspension of Membership in CASW

December 2010

Dear OASW Members:

As reported previously, on September 30, 2010, after extensive deliberations, the OASW Board of Directors notified the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) of their unanimous decision, effective March 31, 2011, to suspend membership in CASW for a period of one year, ending March 31, 2012. The terms of the Memorandum of Understanding, signed by all provincial/territorial member organizations of CASW, specified the six-month notification period.

The Board’s decision to “suspend” rather than “terminate” membership for one year reflects OASW’s desire to keep the door open for further discussions with CASW. This would thereby allow a period of time to re-evaluate whether there is substantial evidence of growth and renewal, that the concerns which led to the OASW Board’s decision have been addressed and/or that a new, constructive relationship can be forged. It is our intent to keep the lines of communication open throughout this process.

Since suspension of membership does not take effect until March 31, 2011, OASW is still an active member of CASW and is participating in deliberations about how CASW plans to restructure and move forward. We have noted that CASW is in the process of exploring options related to change, and we will continue to follow with interest how aspirational goals and decisions translate into concrete, relevant and timely outcomes.

OASW’s Reasons for Decision

This difficult decision was the culmination of unresolved issues despite a high level of investment of time, energy, and fiscal as well as human resources on the part of OASW that date back many years. Our serious concerns were shared by Quebec and Alberta, and were reflected by Quebec’s termination in the federation in 2003 and Alberta’s notification of termination, initiated in December 2009 and finalized in September 2010.

The decision to suspend membership reflects the OASW Board’s commitment to their role as financial stewards of monies received through membership fees – current allocations to CASW represent a significant percentage of OASW’s lean budget – and the need, at all levels, to demonstrate “value” in return for membership fees.

An additional reason for OASW’s decision was the lack of consensus over the last number of years concerning whether professional advocacy/promotion of the profession is a core priority of CASW. Since 60 % of provinces carry a dual membership and regulatory role, the regulatory function has eclipsed the significance of promotion and advocacy on behalf of the profession. As CASW moves forward, OASW will be following with interest the extent to which this latter focus becomes a priority and is illustrated by concrete outcomes.

Provision of Professional Liability Insurance

OASW is currently in the process of negotiating a new, comprehensive professional liability insurance program, which we are confident will be comparable in both coverage and price to replace the current AON program. We will have information available about this plan early in the New Year. The transition to the new plan will be seamless. OASW members, who currently hold AON professional liability insurance through CASW, will continue to receive coverage under their existing policy until their individual policy renewal date, i.e. if the OASW member renewed with AON in October 2010, coverage will continue until October 2011.

OASW Commitment to Social Advocacy at a National Level

OASW remains committed to social advocacy at the national level and will develop a strategy for the coming year. This is, and will continue to be, demonstrated through our support for the work to address the under-funding of child welfare services for First Nations children living on reserves, and as a provincial partner in Campaign 2000 related to provincial and national advocacy initiatives for the alleviation of child poverty. Additionally, we will respond to other key social justice concerns as they arise at a national level. OASW will be joining the Canadian Council on Social Development and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and will also become an affiliated member of the International Federation of Social Workers.

Upcoming Survey of OASW Members

We remain committed to understanding our members’ needs and interests. To this end, OASW will be conducting a comprehensive electronic survey of our membership in late January/early February 2011. This survey will seek input regarding issues related to the value of services and benefits offered though membership in OASW, provided through our OASW Branches, the provincial association and CASW. This survey will build on previous membership surveys conducted in 2007 (OASW membership services) and in 2008 (CASW survey). Please watch for this survey.

If you have any questions or feedback about the OASW’s Board decision, please email jmd@oasw.org.

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