… “This is not a time for divisions within our profession. A strong and vital national voice is more important now than ever…” Hugh Shewell, states on behalf of faculty of the Carleton School of Social Work

Letter to Kate Power President OASW, Hugh Shewell, PhD Director of the Carleton School of Social Work

On the 3rd of December 2010 the Carleton University School of Social Work faculty discussed the decision of the OASW board to suspend membership with the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) as of March 31, 2011. The faculty expressed its very deep disappointment with this decision and would urge you to reconsider it. The faculty believes that this move is damaging not only to CASW but ultimately will damage the profession of social work in this country.

We find that the reasons stated in your communique for withdrawing membership both inadequate and shortsighted. Following the release of the report from the Agora Group, CASW had begun implementing a number of the recommendations in that report. It seems to our faculty an illogical decision on the part of OASW to suspend its membership at a time when changes are in progress.
As a school preparing students for professional practice we emphasize the values of social justice and equality – fundamental principles of the profession. We believe that CASW has done a credible job of articulating these values in the public arena. We have been impressed by the effort CASW has invested in advocating with the federal government on a wide range of issues important to social workers. In the past several months alone CASW has advocated for increased support for people living in poverty, for the establishment of a children’s national advocate, for improved services for seniors and has urged the federal government to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Aboriginal People. CASW has been an active and important national voice for our profession. CASW has also provided an important social work presence on various coalitions and has participated in a number of interdisciplinary national initiatives. Further, social workers in Canada have an important international presence through CASW’s representation on the International Federation of Social Workers.

There are many forces in our society and in the global community contributing to the erosion of supports for the poor and disadvantaged. It is critical that our profession be able to provide a strong united counteracting force speaking up for those left on the margins. We think that the withdrawal of OASW from CASW will significantly weaken the national association. This is not a time for divisions within our profession. A strong and vital national voice is more important now than ever.

We respectfully ask that you reconsider and rescind the decision to suspend membership with CASW.

Yours truly
Hugh Shewell, PhD