Day of mourning an opportunity for royal proclamation of reconciliation to be issued by the Crown

September 18, 2022 — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Tuesday that this coming Monday would be a federal holiday in honour of the funeral service for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the late Queen of Canada.

Unlike many provinces such as Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Nova Scotia joined the Atlantic provinces in deciding to recognize Monday, September 19, 2022, as a provincial holiday, closing provincial government offices, public schools and regulated child care, leaving the decision to close or remain open up to individual businesses and causing challenges for employees who might have to work while dealing with childcare.

Many Indigenous leaders and advocates have noted that the decision to grieve the passing of the Queen ought to be balanced with a growing understanding of the symbolic harm that such a decision may cause. For a country that has stated its commitment to reconciliation and to working to actualize the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the lack of acknowledgment of the ambivalence that many feel about a national day of mourning seems discordant to many. Some have called for the day to instead serve as a national day of reflection on the consequences of colonization and awakening to the possibility of a new future.

A growing number of us with non-Indigenous origins — uninvited guests residing on the unceded territory of Indigenous peoples, whether we or our ancestors came as settlers, arrivants, or refugees — are increasingly becoming aware of the harms of colonization and the ways it has contributed to genocide, trauma and centuries of injustice toward Indigenous peoples in what is now known as Canada, and other countries across the Commonwealth.

Many are calling for Monday to serve as a turning point, and for our leaders to instead embrace this day as an opportunity to demand accountability and change. In particular, this is an appropriate time for the Doctrine of Discovery to be rejected by the British monarchy.

As noted by Roseanne Archibald, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, the 45th call to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report called for a “Royal Proclamation of Reconciliation to be issued by the Crown” to reaffirm nation-to-nation relations between Indigenous nations and the Crown. This call to action includes renunciation of the Doctrine of Discovery, adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People nationwide, and a commitment to renew or establish proper treaty relationships to ensure Indigenous people are equal partners.

As a body of social workers that has been organizing around the importance of decolonization, we invite our members to recognize that Monday will be a difficult and painful day for the thousands of Indigenous peoples who have been disenfranchised, and whose grief and trauma has been unacknowledged. May this day serve as a time of reflection and inspire us to work toward a decolonized future.

N Siritsky, RSW
NSCSW Professional Practice & Advocacy Consultant

General meetings recap

I want to thank everyone who took the time and energy to come out to both Special General Meeting and Annual General Meeting. There were many important and crucial decisions made in order to protect the public as well as to strengthen clinical social work practice in Nova Scotia. There is also crucial learning done particularly toward the college’s commitments to reconciliation and decolonization. I want to apologize for the inappropriate and incomplete land acknowledgement and share my learning on how we can be committed towards the necessary labour of reconciliation.

For those who missed the “excitement” I wish to share a recap of some of the motions that were passed at the SGM and AGM, as well as the video recordings. 

Recommended rate

First, members adopted a motion to increase the recommended rate for private practitioners in Nova Scotia to $175 an hour. This rate reflects inflation from the last time members adopted a recommended rate. Please note that this rate is a recommendation; each individual private practitioner can set their own rates for their services based on their experience, their location and the type of services they are offering. It’s important to note that your labour and your care both hold value; as a profession that tends to undervalue itself, we hope that this recommended rate meets both your needs and your clients expectations.

Sexual misconduct standards of practice

Second, important Standards of Practice were adopted regarding sexual misconduct and the profession of social worker. Like many health professions, there has been a growing rise of sexual misconduct allegations against social workers, and both the public end members are entitled to clearly defined standards to which members of the profession will be accountable as well as a clearly defined expectations  on how the NSCSW will process these complaints using a trauma informed lens.

Work will be done to incorporate these standards into our existing standards both in our PDF printable format and online. In the meantime these standards are in effect immediately, and you can access them here.

Clinical scope of practice

Third, at the SGM there was an important debate and discussion on the direction that we as a profession in Nova Scotia are taking regarding the advanced practice of clinical social work. Members at the SGM adopted a resolution to continue to develop regulations regarding clinical social work including a scope of practice that would include a strong commitment to social justice and the social determinants of mental health, family centred and critical clinical practice, and towards diagnosing. While much work is to be done and there is a long road ahead, particularly towards legislative amendments to the social workers act, this resolution gave a clear mandate to the leadership of the NSCSW to vigorously consult and collaborate with crucial and core groups, including understanding the unique needs of Indigenous and Black communities and core employers towards the goals of the proposal. A strategy will be released later this year laying out consultation and collaboration plan and a proposed timeline for achieving the goals of the proposal. 

What I personally took from this conversation, and the consultations we held throughout April, is that social justice in mental health and substance use services is not to be confined to one approach, perspective, or model of practice. What I heard is that social justice is about an outcome for the public that we serve and the communities in which they are embedded. Access to resources and services is a core part of this and currently because of the dominance of the biomedical model and structures there is a clear need for social workers who choose to seek training and develop their competences in diagnosing to be able to do so to better serve their clients. What I took form the debate is that social justice is about the achievement of a person-centred approach, quality of life, and justice.

Annual report

At our AGM, the College laid out its outcomes that were achieved over the last year through its annual report, including our reorganization of staffing roles, the work of our committees, and our accountability to managing our financial resources. Members approved a budget for the 2023 calendar year, which included a 0.5% fee increase bringing the registration fee to $445; this low increase was achievable because of good financial planning and membership growth. We’ve been able to keep our costs down, despite the growing pressures in the regulation of the profession, membership services, and of course an extraordinary period of inflation. 

In addition we were also able to articulate further our commitment to decolonizing the College and the long road in front of us of indigenizing our governance structure, our programs, and our services.

In solidarity,

Alec Stratford, RSW
NSCSW Executive Director/Registrar

Unauthorized Practise and Permanent Injunction – Leanne (Dawn) Archambault

Issued: December 20, 2021

Leanne (Dawn) Archambault

On September 18, 2014, the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers (the predecessor to the College) granted Leanne (Dawn) Archambault temporary registration as a Social Worker Candidate with the Association.  Ms. Archambault’s temporary registration expired on September 30, 2014. She did not seek further registration with the Association.

In November 2014, the Association discovered that Ms. Archambault had used falsified educational credentials to obtain her temporary registration as a Social Worker Candidate. The Association also learned that Ms. Archambault also used falsified educational credentials to secure employment as a social worker in Nova Scotia. Ms. Archambault’s then employer terminated her employment immediately upon discovering the falsified credentials.

In September 2021, the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers learned that Ms. Archambault again used falsified educational credentials to secure employment as a social worker.  The College also discovered that Ms. Archambault provided her employer with a forged Certificate of Membership and Registration from the College. This employer and Ms. Archambault discontinued the employment relationship prior to the employer discovering the falsified documentation. 

The College has a statutory duty to serve and protect the public interest in the practice of social work. Accordingly, in consideration of Ms. Archambault’s persistent pattern of unauthorized practise and the serious risk to the public in allowing an unregistered and unqualified person to practise social work and hold herself out as a social worker, the College sought a permanent injunction against Ms. Archambault.

On December 20, 2021, the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia declared that Ms. Archambault contravened subsection 55(1) of Social Workers Act by doing the following acts despite not holding registration with the College as a social worker:

  • practising as a social worker;
  • using the titles of social worker and Registered Social Worker;
  • making use of the abbreviation of the title Registered Social Worker: “RSW”;
  • advertising and representing herself as a social worker and Registered Social Worker;
  • acting and representing herself in such a manner as to lead to the belief that she was authorized to fill the office of or to act as a social worker and Registered Social Worker; and.
  • engaging in the private practice of social work without approval of the Board of Examiners of the College

The Court issued a Permanent Injunction ordering that Ms. Archambault is permanently restrained and enjoined from:

  • practising social work;
  • using the title of social worker or Registered Social Worker (or any abbreviation of that title);
  • holding herself out as a social worker;
  • applying for employment or a volunteer position in the field of social work, and
  • engaging in the private practise of social work,

until and unless she obtains registration from the College to undertake these activities.

The Court also ordered that Ms. Archambault remove any and all in print or online statements where she describes herself as a social worker.

Lastly, the Court ordered Ms. Archambault pay $5,000 to the College in costs.

Ms. Archambault consented to the terms of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia’s order.

NSCSW submission to the Child and Family Services Act review

The Department of Community Services recently conducted a mandatory review of the Children and Family Services Act (CFSA). The NSCSW was consulted on this matter and followed up the consultation with a written submission. The NSCSW is publicly releasing its submission, as it believes that under its mandate in the Social Workers Act it is compelled to do so.

The Department of Community Services chose to conduct their review in a manner that both limited the scope and engagement process, and excluded core stakeholders such as frontline staff, families involved in the system, and children and youth in care. As such, the CFSA Review Committee chose three of the least problematic areas of the Act that focused on:

  • Section 25: Duty to report third party abuse to ensure that the intended reporting duty is appropriately captured and any potential changes that could be made;
  • Section 94: Prohibition on publications to determine whether there should be discretion for the Minister or the Court to publish information in exceptional circumstances; and
  • Section 63 – 66: Child abuse register to explore if the legislation is effective in keeping children and the community safe.

The challenges that have emerged in the provision of services to vulnerable children and families through the amended Act have remained far too problematic for such a narrow review. The lack of public engagement also seems counter to the current political climate.

Given the narrow scope, the NSCSW has chosen to provide a more comprehensive review of the Act (although still limited, due to a lack of available data), and evaluate the Act through the lens of the Social Policy Framework created last year in partnership with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – Nova Scotia Office (CCPA-NS).

The Social Policy Framework was designed to support the development and evaluation of social policy through a set of ten principles that have been researched and designed to create a more equitable and fairer Nova Scotia. Utilizing this framework, our submission assessed the impact of the Act and how it has contributed to creating greater inequality and inequity, further marginalizing vulnerable children and youth. This submission did not make recommendations on how to improve the Act, but rather it laid groundwork for NSCSW to do so in a future policy paper.

The NSCSW mandate is to serve and protect the public interest; to preserve the integrity of the social-work profession; and to advocate for the development, enhancement and promotion of policies to improve social conditions and promote social justice. We feel that in order to live up to the expectations of this mandate there needs to be a public record of our actions regarding the CFSA review. In addition, the NSCSW’s strategic plan has committed us to being responsible, accountable and transparent. We believe that to achieve this strategic objective, members need to have an opportunity to review our submission and provide feedback. Finally, our Social Policy Framework promotes the principle of democratization and calls on governments to engage with communities to shape public policy. Communities must have as much information as possible to provide public feedback, and we believe our submission will add to that process.

The NSCSW has been working with Department of Community Services to address many of the core issues outlined in this submission. We welcome this open and honest dialogue and are hopeful that it will lead to change. It is our hope that with the release of this submission our political decision-makers will see the clear need for a fundamental shift in the delivery of child welfare and provide the Department of Community Services with the resources to implement core changes.

Alec Stratford
NSCSW Executive Director/Registrar
March 10, 2021

NSCSW Staff Reorganization

View of Halifax from Dartmouth harbour trail

How we got here

Over the last decade the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers (NSCSW) has experienced significant changes in leadership and staffing, as well as in strategic direction. 

In 2016 amendments were made to the 1993 Social Workers Act which transformed the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers into the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers, and sparked a renewed vision and growth for the NSCSW. The amended Social Workers Act resulted in major changes to the College’s mandate as both a regulatory and association body, our programming, and brand. The College also embarked on a provincial campaign to renew our professional commitments, values, ethics, and professional practices. 

In 2017 the College focused on enhancing communication and engagement with members and the public including: building a bi-weekly member newsletter; transforming Connectionmagazine; offering professional development opportunities throughout Nova Scotia; and rebuilding core committees armed with a clear focus and expectations. 2017 also saw a provincial consultation regarding social work ethics, a revised Candidacy Mentorship Program, and significant achievements made toward becoming a recognized leader in advocacy, and social justice working to protect Nova Scotians. 

A transformational agenda led to the College conducting a provincial consultation with its membership in effort to develop an ambitious 5-year Strategic Plan. The overall objective of the plan was to fulfill the College’s mandate and create a vibrant, visible, and vocal social work community. The membership voted to adopt this plan in 2018. 

While the above does not represent an exhaustive list of the changes made and experienced by the NSCSW, the evidence is clear the College of today is transforming in nature, complexity and reach in effort to address its integrated function as both a regulatory and association body. 

Attending to the College’s transformational agenda and goal of making impactful change has heightened the responsibilities and expectations of the College. In addition to these pressures, the College has experienced continuous membership growth breaking the 2000 mark in 2018, and has received an unprecedented number of complaints, increasing from an average of 16 complaints between 2012 to 2016 to approximately 44 in 2020. 

Changes on the horizon

After a lengthy and comprehensive review, the NSCSW is ready to make some key changes. The first will be to transition the Professional Practice Consultant staff role, which is currently a 0.6 position, into a full-time position with new responsibilities regarding professional standards and advocacy. 

This change does mean saying goodbye to Annemieke Vink who has done an outstanding job at bringing to life the new Connection magazine, providing strategic support to the Social Justice Committee as they delivered on our major mental health paper, and of course working with the Professional Development Committee to organize and deliver our annual conference and professional development events across the province.

Annemieke’s contribution to the profession of social work in Nova Scotia will be celebrated more over the coming months and we wish her well in her retirement. 

Stay tuned to this blog and the member-only newsletter for more announcements over the next few weeks.

African Heritage Month 2021: Black History Matters

Welcome all to African Heritage Month. This year’s theme is particularly relevant as it serves to inform all Nova Scotians about our important African Nova Scotian history, heritage and culture and the role it plays in transforming society. The last year has brought greater attention to deeply rooted racial inequalities that exist in Nova Scotia, which is why this year’s provincial theme, “Black History Matters: Listen, Learn, Share and Act,” calls on all Nova Scotians to make a better society by recognizing the long-standing history and legacy of African Nova Scotians, and by acknowledging racialized issues and adversity for people of African descent.

We call on all social workers to join us in sharing and learning more about the incredible resilience of Black Nova Scotians and the continued adversity that the over 50 Black communities in Nova Scotia face. This is a time to learn and reflect on this important history, as well as for non-Black social workers to reflect on our on role as allies, and to challenge the ongoing economic inequality that is inextricably linked to systemic, institutional and interpersonal legacies of racism in Nova Scotia.

We hope these resources will help you engage in this learning.

Upcoming Events: 

Previous Webinars:

At the root of the change that that needs to occur is an ideological shift in the current fiscal and social policy that has built a system of haves and have-nots. Social work as profession has contributed and actively participated in discrimination against Black people and communities. As Merlinda Weinberg recently pointed out in her contribution to the most recent issue of Connection magazine:

Social work as a profession has always been a normative based profession, focusing on ethics as a foundational concept. However, when one looks at the vehicles for evaluating ethics, such as codes and decision-making models, and the texts addressing ethics in social work, the absence of the recognition of racism as a fundamental problem in social work ethics is striking. 

Dr. Merlinda Weinberg, RSW
The Absence of Racism as a Fundamental Concern in Ethics in Social Work
Connection — Fall 2020

Dr Weinberg points out that while the Nova Scotia Code of Ethics recognizes ‘diversity’ and ‘discrimination’ it omits the term ‘racism’ completely She writes, “Respect for and celebration of diversity are laudable goals, but they ‘whitewash’ the more troubling and insidious reality of racism in social work in Canada generally, and Nova Scotia in particular.”

At the NSCSW our commitment to anti-racist work will continue and grow. We are committed to ensuring that the College reflects the diverse voices of Nova Scotians by working to ensure representation on the College’s committees and staffing. We are also committed and are in the process of examining the pedagogy of social work by working with our national partners to update the Canadian Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics, with the commitment of embedding the principles of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission within them and ensuring meaningful collaboration with Black social workers. Once this review is completed, we are committed to updating the NSCSW Standards of Practice which are at the root of how we regulate the profession, in order to ensure that they are reflective of Afrocentric and Indigenous views.

Through our communications tools, we will continue to share the stories and successes of the important and distinct contributions of social workers from diverse backgrounds. We will continue to organize and offer specific social work education on anti-racism. 

Many of our members are already leading the urgent and vital work of identifying and dismantling white supremacy in our praxis, our institutions, and our communities. I urge all of you to join them in this task. I also invite concerned members to comment on this blog post, to contact me or your elected Council representatives to discuss how the College —and our social work community— needs to embrace these changes, or to join College committees and participate directly.

Alec Stratford
Executive Director/Registrar

Take a moment

Take a breath, and feel your feet underneath you. Feel the breath flowing in and out of your body, and ground yourself through the radiating of love, compassion and empathy that still exists and is all around us during one of the darkest periods in Nova Scotia history. That love, compassion and empathy that is around us is being generated each and every day through you. It is brought to life in the ways that you are supporting vulnerable Nova Scotians who went into this pandemic facing economic, health and social inequities and it is deeply meaningful to all Nova Scotians who are grieving the senseless violence that occurred over the weekend.

What you do matters, and it makes a difference.

What makes each and every one of you so unique and heroic during these times is your capacity to lead through empathy. Not only are you providing professional care to the most vulnerable in Nova Scotia, you are also finding ways to care for your families and your communities.

It’s important to take whatever moments you can find to pause and acknowledge the stress that your hearts, minds and bodies are feeling.  To acknowledge and determine what you need in this situation is an important act of social justice; knowing that that your own well-being matters grounds us in the empathy, values​ and compassion that we share professionally. We can also take a moment to reflect on questions such as: “What do I really want for myself? For the other people around me? For our relationship(s)? For our organizations, and our community?”

Be kind to yourselves. Give yourself as much support as you would give to a friend. Be sure to take care of your body. When you can: drink water, eat healthy, move your body, rest, sleep, and get outside for fresh air and sun.

Strive for a sense of calm. Practice relaxation and coping strategies such as deep breathing, grounding by feeling both feet on the floor, and pausing between tasks for a moment to reset. Support yourself and others to roll with uncertainty and its impact(s). Accept that productivity and “business as usual” is not the same. Provide flexibility in how and when work is completed.

Stay connected. Connect with people both in your personal and work lives through phone calls, virtual meetings, and writing. Know that you are not alone. You have a professional community that is cheering you on, and that is here.

The world may bring deep darkness
But we are the bearers of light
We’ll join our flames together
And shine in the [darkest] of nights

— John Mark Green

Alec Stratford
NSCSW Registrar/Executive Director

Parts of this blog post were written using the resource:
Leading Through COVID-19 Pandemic; For Formal and Informal Leaders. IWK Health Centre. 2020

Transitioning to telepractice

As the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved, many folks have reached out for guidance on best practices for using technology to conduct their social work practice. 

Social workers’ use of technology has created new ways to interact and communicate with clients, raising fundamentally new questions about the meaning of the social worker–client relationship. In addition, social workers use various forms of technology to access, gather, and otherwise manage information about clients. Social workers maintain encrypted electronic records, store sensitive information on their smartphones and in the “cloud,” and have the capacity to search for information about clients using Internet search engines. Social workers use technology in creative ways to address compelling social justice issues, organize communities, administer organizations, and develop social policy. Social workers also explore and develop new technologies for practice and disseminate them with colleagues. 

For further information and clarification please refer to Standards for Technology and Social Work Practice, published by the National College of Social Workers and Association of Social Work Boards.

Preferred platforms and security 

The NSCSW does not recommend one platform over another. Whatever tools you choose for your practice, ensure you are competent in their operation.

Social workers should also be conscious and thinking about security. There have been several reports that programs are being “hacked” and meetings being interrupted. Consider whether you are using a secure internet connection rather than public/free Wi-Fi. It is also important that when you are setting up meetings or sessions with clients that you have your security settings on. Make sure that there are passwords protecting entrance to the conversation, administrative controls on sharing screens are limited, and other functions that allow you as the administrator to control access to who can enter the meeting.

There are a variety of telehealth programs available online. It is important that agencies and social workers do their research to determine the security standards in the platform and what if it meets their general needs. 

Like many regulatory bodies, the NSCSW believes that closed or private paid networks offer better computer security because they are encrypted. However, it is important to keep in mind that any web platform can theoretically be hacked or compromised. It is important for social workers to raise the risks to clients to gain consent to their use in an informed manner. 

Registration in other jurisdictions

It is also important that social workers understand the regulatory requirements of outside jurisdictions, before providing electronic social work services to clients outside of the province. It is the responsibility of each social worker to consult with the social work regulatory body in the jurisdiction in which the client resides to confirm that the social worker is adequately licensed to practice in their client’s place of residence.

Here is the contact information for our counterparts across the country:

  1. Alberta College of Social Workers — 1-800-661-3089
  2. British Columbia College of Social Workers — 1-877-576-6740
  3. Saskatchewan Association of Social Workers — 1-877-517-7279
  4. Manitoba College of Social Workers — 1-844-885-6279
  5. Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Workers — 1-877-828-9380
  6. l’Ordre des travailleurs sociaux et des thérapeutes conjugaux et familiaux du Québec — 1-888-731-9420
  7. New Brunswick Association of Social Workers — 1-506-495-5595
  8. PEI Social Work Registration Board — 902-368-7337
  9. Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Social Workers —  709-753-0200

Similarly, social workers from outside Nova Scotia must prove to the NSCSW that they meet specific criteria if they wish to engage in telepractice with clients in our province.

Liability insurance 

It is important that private practitioners and agencies check with their insurance companies to ensure that they have the proper coverage. The CASW’s insurance program through BMS has produced a number of core documents for telehealth practitioners of different issues to consider; 

The BMS team can be reached at

Training and resources

The NSCSW is working on a number of resources that will allow social workers to share and reflect on their learning using telepractice. Keep checking your newsletter for more details. 

Here are some helpful tools to get you started:

Telemental Health Toolkit

The Upper Midwest Telehealth Resource Center (UMTRC) produced a video toolkit aimed at helping care providers prepare for using telehealth videoconferencing. The presenter for this series of tutorials is Jonathan Neufeld, PhD, Clinical Director at UMTRC. Jonathan is a psychologist who has worked with clients both in person and via video and shares his expertise throughout this 13-part series.

Practice Notes: Professional and Ethical: Communication Technology Practices and Policies for a Digital World

The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers developed this practice note on communication technology and social work practice Many social workers and social service workers use communication technologies regularly, as part of their practice. While communication technology may make some aspects of practice easier, it also requires practitioners to remain vigilant in order to ensure that they maintain clear and appropriate professional boundaries and other ethical practices

How to Set Up Your Online Couples Therapy Practice

Developed by the Gottman Institute in the US, this training offers an introduction to the do’s and don’ts of online therapy:

  • Office setting
  • Informed consent
  • Gadgets (camera, microphone, lighting)
  • Maintaining privacy and safety
  • Orienting your clients to online therapy
  • Differences between in-person vs. online therapy

Learn about the software tools available to you for virtually onboarding new clients, scheduling, taking notes, billing, and video conferencing.

Technology Trends: Training Social Workers in Telebehavioral Health Care

Over the past two decades, telebehavioral health care has expanded significantly and is now widely accepted as a legitimate option for providing care. This has been made possible in large part by the availability of high-quality, low-cost, user-friendly digital communication tools.

Current State of COVID-19: Telehealth, Liability, and Business Insurance Considerations

CASW in collaboration with BMS and Gowling WLG provided an overview of coverage considerations in relation to COVID-19 in this online webinar, which is free for NSCSW members. This session may be of interest to any social workers delivering electronic services, and includes important details for private practice clinic owners who purchase Plan 2 in the CASW Liability Insurance Program.

Open Letter: Protecting vulnerable children and youth during COVID-19 pandemic

March 27, 2020

The Honorable Stephen MacNeil, Premier of Nova Scotia
One Government Place
1713 Barrington St
Halifax, NS B3J 2A4

Honourable Kelly Regan, Minister of Community Services
Department of Community Services
8th Floor, Nelson Place 
5675 Spring Garden Road
P.O. Box 696
Halifax, NS B3J 2T7

Dr. Rob Strang, Chief Medical Officer of Health
17th Floor, Barrington Tower
1894 Barrington St.
P.O. Box 488
Halifax, NS B3J 2R8

Re: Protecting vulnerable children and youth during COVID-19 pandemic

Dear Premier MacNeil, Minister Regan and Dr. Strang,

The Nova Scotia College of Social Workers, like many in our province, is particularly concerned about vulnerable children and youth during this time of crisis. We are asking that the province implement the following steps to ensure that vulnerable children, youth and their families are protected throughout these unsettling times.

  • Ensure the Department of Community Services website is up to date with all COVID-19 news and with details on what program service providers and users can expect from the department;
  • expedite the return of children to parents where there is already a plan in the works to return the child to the parent;
  • the province pays any and all emergency or enhanced Canada Child Benefits (CCB) and work with the federal government so the province recoups this cost and this burden is not placed on vulnerable families, to be without this crucial income;
  • place a moratorium on youth aging out of care while we are in this state emergency;
  • for families who are accessing income assistance, dispense with the board rate and increase the Standard Household Rate (SHR) to ensure families receive 100% of the Market Basket Measure (MBM) for poverty (inclusive of other income supports);
  • expand the current COVID-19 eviction policy into a moratorium on all applications for vacant possession of residential premises and a halt on all pending eviction orders until at least June 1, 2020; and
  • provide short-term motel stays to everyone on the priority access waiting list for public housing. 

We want to make sure that during this unsettling time the province is doing everything in its power to ensure that children and youth are maintaining important bonds and attachment with their parents, that vulnerable families have the resources they need to self-isolate and practice social distancing and that social workers have the tools to provide the professional care to vulnerable children, youth and families in their time of great need. 

We believe that in this moment of need we must expedite the return of children to parents where there is already a plan in the works to return the child to the parent. This should be expedited as much as possible to avoid loss of parent-child bonding that cannot be done through virtual means – especially for children under the age of five. When this is not possible, the province must uphold the rights of parents with children in temporary care and custody to maintain access visits by putting the infrastructure in place to facilitate online meetings and programs. As this is happening we need to ensure that the province pay any and all emergency or enhanced CCBs and to work with the federal government so that province recoups this cost and this burden is not placed on vulnerable families. We also call for a moratorium on youth aging out of care while we are in this state of emergency. 

Given that safety and case plans are shifting as support programs close doors and staff at DCS practice social distancing, we must look to other tools to ensure that families are safe. Income is one of the core tools that we know has an impact on health and wellness of families. For families who are accessing income assistance we must dispense with the board rate and increase the SHR to ensure all families receiving Income Assistance receive 100% of the MBM for poverty (inclusive of other income supports). In addition, the province needs to rescind work search and monthly income reporting requirements for this process. It is also imperative that the province commit to not clawing back the federal Emergency Care Benefit, the Emergency Support Benefit and stop the current practice of clawing back Employment Insurance from those who supplement income assistance with employment income. 

We must make sure that vulnerable children, youth and their families have safe housing during this crisis. Expanding the current COVID-19 eviction policy into a moratorium on all applications for vacant possession of residential premises and a halt on all pending eviction orders until at least June 1, 2020, would help to ensure this. In addition, in the current crisis we must restore rent control in Nova Scotia by issuing an order-in-council to eliminate the exemption of all classes of residential premises from the Rent Review Act. Further to this we must provide short-term motel stays to everyone on the priority access waiting list for public housing. 

We know that the government is doing its very best to contain the spread of COVID-19. At this moment we encourage the government to ensure they are applying an intersectional lens, recognizing that we are a very unequal society and that capacity of those with privilege and power is different than of those who are marginalized and oppressed. We must ensure that decisions are reflective of the unique needs of vulnerable Nova Scotians. 

Kind Regards, 

Alec Stratford, MSW, RSW
Executive Director/Registrar
Nova Scotia College of Social Workers

NSCSW response to COVID-19

Measures to prevent COVID-19 transmission continue to be necessary for protection of the public during this challenging time.

What this means for our office

If you need to visit our office in Halifax, you must make an appointment first. Staff are mostly working from home, so a scheduled appointment is the only way to be sure someone will be there to assist you.

Most members of our small but dedicated staff team are working remotely. Our staff continue to check voice mail and email regularly on days they are working outside the office, and will respond to all messages as soon as we can. Meetings are being held via teleconference. 

What this means for social workers

Social workers are supporting communities that are affected or fearful of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Some of our members have asked for guidance on specific topics; we hope Alec’s blog posts about telepracticesocial work practice during emergency situations, and taking time for reflection have been helpful.

Professional development

We are continuing to offer online professional development to serve our members’ learning needs; our programming has included webinars offered in partnership with the CASW and open to their members across Canada, interactive workshops that require live participation, and free events open to the public. All College events will be posted on our website, and announcements will be distributed in the member newsletter.

The activities page of our website highlights suggested professional development resources on selected topics, such as social work ethics, truth and reconciliation, and self-care. This list continues to grow as we add links to recordings of our own webinars and advocacy events, as well as new resources received via our social work community.

The Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) has a robust collection of online resources for professional development. All members of our College are also CASW members, and thus have free access to all of their webinars, their online journal, and a full-text journal database. Visit the CASW website to learn more.

Vaccines, public health & misinformation

Given the profession’s commitment to the public good, social workers are expected to fully utilize evidence-based information, developed by public health experts and researchers from across the globe, and refrain from sharing misinformation.

» Read “Guidance regarding vaccines, public health, and the spread of misinformation”

Public health guidelines are continually being adjusted to incorporate new knowledge and respond appropriately to changing conditions in our region; we encourage all members to stay up to date on guidance and regulations that may apply to your practice. CASW is helping social workers stay up to date with the latest information by maintaining a page on their website with helpful, reliable resources for health care professionals, the public, and communities.

This page was last updated April 7, 2022.