Category: Social Work National Issues

Call for a “renewed” national agency to address social infrastructure

Michael Mendelson of the recently closing Caledon Institute lays out a vision of a new agency to build upon the history of councils working on social welfare.

…Today the National Council of Welfare is gone. The Canadian
Council on Social Development barely exists, limping along with little
national presence. These two core national agencies, which provided a
prominent voice for ‘social Canada,’ are no longer heard. At the same
time, many other national groups that were important to social policy
have also disappeared, such as the Economic Council of Canada. As of
November 2017, the Caledon Institute of Social Policy, to which this author
is affiliated and which has been critical in developing many practical
social policy innovations over the last two and a half decades (most notably
the child benefit system introduced by the new Trudeau government),
will also close up shop.

For Canada to remain a nation that aspires to protect our most
vulnerable citizens while providing equal opportunity for all, we cannot
stand still in the face of the challenges to come. We must evolve and
adapt our social security and development systems to the reality of the
world around us. This is not a task for government alone. Business,
labor, media, religious and Indigenous organizations and many others in
both our economic life and our civil society must play a role.

What Canada is missing is an ‘institutional’ national agency,
which can bring together the many and varied elements of civil society,
government and others towards continuously assessing, improving and
adapting our nation’s social infrastructure to ever-changing circumstances.
But neither the National Council of Welfare nor the Canadian Council
on Social Development as they were established would be suitable for
today’s needs. …

See the proposal here:


Ontario Association of Social Workers president describes efforts to dialogue with the Canadian Association of Social Workers

President Adamson’s memo informs of a OASW and CASW luncheon.

The voice of social work in Ontario La voix du travail social en Ontario

January 2017
Memo to: OASW Branch Presidents
Cc: OASW Board of Directors

Dear Colleagues:
As a follow-up to our November meetings at the OASW Provincial Conference, I wanted to provide you
with an update on CASW.

Joan MacKenzie Davies, OASW Executive Director, and I met with CASW’s new President,
Jan Christianson-Wood, and Executive Director, Fred Phelps, on October 5, 2016. While
OASW had proposed meetings with CASW previously during visits to Ottawa in October 2014, and to
coincide with our attendance at the Eastern Branch 80th Anniversary and Gala on March 23, 2016, the
previous President, Morel Caissie, was unavailable to meet with us on those occasions. The October
2016 meeting came about as the result of a follow-up by the new President to our earlier

The agenda for our meeting consisted of an exchange of information, a sharing of strategic directions,
and getting to know one another. The hour and a half luncheon meeting was cordial and constructive.
Initially, we talked about the future of social work practice as reflected in emerging trends in
government policy and social work practice, as well as emergent challenges and opportunities facing the

Overall, the meeting served the significant purpose of finding out what issues were of uppermost
importance to the respective organizations. There was an alignment around raising the profile of the
profession (CASW has started its own marketing campaign) and Indigenous issues. No specific
commitments were made in regard to next steps, but there was agreement to keep the lines of
communication open.

Please do not hesitate to be in contact with Joan or your Regional Director if you have any further
questions or concerns.
Keith Adamson, PhD, RSW

from Eastern Branch Spring 2017 newsletter found here:

Straight talk on User involvement in any system of care

Peter Beresford of Shaping our Lives, explains’s Britain’s experience with systems improvement as well as professional regulation, suggests how to deepen and make more clear in our everyday individual and organizational practices.

Here is an rather detailed, practical report on user involvement  Beyond the usual suspects, towards inclusive user involvement”

The Shaping Our Lives group, has various and many resources – main page here.

Senator Kim Pate gives speech on women and jails to the Senate

Please see this Globe and Mail article on her speech 

…For 35 years, Kim Pate has been the country’s most prominent advocate for the hundreds of women locked away in Canada’s prisons.

It is a numbing world that tests the souls of all who touch it, filled with extremes of bureaucratic apathy and human barbarity.

So when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named Ms. Pate to the Senate in October, she could have been excused for embracing it as a departure from all that – a retirement from decades of fighting on behalf of women such as Ashley Smith and hundreds of others whom the justice system has silenced and segregated. …

Photo published for New senator Kim Pate gives a voice to women in Canada's prisons

Follow her adventures, on Twitter!

Listen to her speech here:

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women

CASW statement

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women

(Ottawa, Ontario) December 6, 2016 – On this day, the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) marks the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women, and solemnly remembers the 14 women murdered on this day in 1989 at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal. While there has been progress made in the pursuit of a Canada free from gender based violence and oppression, there is still much work to be done.

“Far too often, the everyday injustices and barriers that women experience are shrugged off,” stated CASW President Jan Christianson-Wood, “but we must recognize that these issues are part of a climate of misogyny that lead, in part, to those fourteen young women’s tragic deaths. It is more important than ever to remember and to name the horrific experience of those young women for what it was: gender based violence and misogyny.”

CASW also notes that the purpose of this day is two-fold; both to remember and to inspire action toward a better future. As such, CASW commends the federal government in undertaking a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, but concurrently CASW demands that this inquiry result in concrete actions to create systemic change.

“On behalf of the social workers we represent, CASW wrote letters to each provincial/territorial Premier, calling for full cooperation in the national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls,” noted Christianson-Wood, “and we will continue to demand a Canada in which our laws, policies and procedures – not just individual citizens – support, empower, and protect the dignity and safety of women and girls.”

Additionally, CASW acknowledges the special international circumstances which colour this year’s day of remembrance and action. “The politics of our neighbours to the south often have a huge impact on Canada’s political and social climate as well,” stated Christianson-Wood. “In light of recent events, CASW believes it is important to reiterate that Canadian social workers affirm the lived experiences of women and stand in solidarity with victims and survivors of violence.”


For further information:
Fred Phelps, MSW, RSW
CASW Executive Director
Tel: 613-729-6668

Strengthening Social Work practice and regulation using social work values and knowledge

With an initial query by me and later supported by 5 social workers who helped in the edit and framing, this brief was posed to Canadian Social Work Registrars.

Are there organizational practices to enhance the role of clients/consumers who are identified as social groups (such as: Aboriginal, low income, persons of colour, people living with a mental illness, etc.) with Canadian social work regulatory colleges?

Social Work’s unique body of knowledge and values embedded in our Code of Ethics has critical themes which link the individual in their social context in order to intervene effectively at the individual level as well as and advance social change.  In order for Social Work regulatory colleges to protect the public they need to apply a social work informed knowledge base for practitioner accountability.  This would further strengthen both current efforts and the identification of emerging methods and structures through advancing the role of social groups with regulatory college and supporting individual social worker’s accountability in practice, in our client/public experience and in communicating social work values and relevance to the public.

We are urging that Canadian social work regulatory colleges:

  • be willing to share with each other their current collective practices regarding integrating social groups into their accountability structures
  • consider identifying other jurisdictions and initiatives that would be good examples of strengthening the voice of social groups in social work regulatory college accountability structures
  • assess and identify examples in other jurisdictions of legislation that facilitates this approach to accountability if the legal structure of each provincial social work regulatory colleges is unable to take such an approach

This request to incorporate social groups role in social work regulation is founded on the critical role regulation has for the profession.   Dr. Alison MacDonald’s research on social work regulation demonstrates that, “… regulation is used to define who we are, what we do, and who is allowed to be part of our profession.” (2010, iii)




MacDonald, Alison, “Globalization and the Regulation of Social Work Practice in Canada”, Phd thesis, University of Calgary, 2010.

 (please note this draft was what was provided due to deadlines, improved drafts followed from our group and could potentially be shared later)

Lise Betteridge,the Ontario College Social Work and Social Service Worker registrar was willing to share the brief and then provided a summary of the informal feedback from the Canadian Social Work Registrars who also were willing and happy to discuss the questions raised in the brief.

In terms of your question about integrating the voice of social groups into regulatory accountability structures, the group suggests that there are a number of mechanisms in each province which accomplish this, including:

  • Having publicly-appointed members on Council. These members represent the public interest, but it should also be noted that elected professional members are also there to represent the public, rather than their profession. Efforts to ensure diversity on councils are ongoing. The group noted that members of Council are often themselves consumers of social work and social service work services, which further ensures that the voice of the public is well represented at the council tables.
  • The complaints and discipline processes, which are the avenues through which the public can voice its concerns about an individual’s member’s practice.
  • Organizational practices which ensure that issues that impact the public who is served by social workers and social service workers  are ongoing topics at our tables. These topics include but are not limited to gender, fair registration and equivalency policies, and First Nations issues.

Thanks again for your question.

I hope more social workers join the discussion and this exploration!

“(Building) a Political Agenda for Social Work” for the Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development

Filipe Duarte (from Carleton University School of Social Work) shares his article“(Building) a Political Agenda for Social Work” on pages 18-20 in the Special edition of the Iassw-aiets Social Dialogue Magazine on the Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development.