FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 12, 2021
KJIPUKTUK (HALIFAX, NS) – As the new sitting of the legislature opens, the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers (NSCSW) has addressed a new open letter to the Premier, his government and all members of the Legislative Assembly, to share the policy goals held by social workers in the province. The open letter provides Nova Scotia’s elected officials with a long list of challenges that the new government must tackle including the housing crisis, climate crisis, health care crisis, substance use and mental health crisis and crisis in the provision of child welfare.
Alec Stratford, executive director and registrar of NSCSW, states, “the challenges arose from prior governments’ lack of resolve to tackle growing income inequality in Nova Scotia, thus that is where this new government can find its solutions.” The open letter cites data on the growth of income inequality, and on its adverse effects on health care, mental health, and provision of child welfare.
“Rising inequality and the continued class divide between the rich and the poor has allowed the voices of the most vulnerable, particularly those of our racialized communities and children and youth, to go unnoticed, has eroded trust, and has increased anxiety and illness for all,” says Stratford. “This lack of trust appears to be growing, which corrodes the social solidarity required to tackle these large issues. It pits Nova Scotians against one another, fighting for resources perceived to be scarce, rather than working together in solidarity towards the common good.”
Lynn Brogan, president of NSCSW, agrees: “All members of the legislative assembly must work together to address income inequality growth, which is entrenching inequity. We know social determinants of health such as income, food security, housing, and social protection significantly affect both physical and mental health.” She continues, “I believe the Houston government is sincere in its desire to improve health care, so I call on them to ensure their focus extends beyond the health sector, and to make significant investments in non-medical factors that influence our health outcomes. Such investments in the basic needs and social care of our people are foundational to creating real change.”
Both Brogan and Stratford also stress the need to transform child welfare services, and create an independent Office of the Child and Youth Advocate.
The open letter offers robust common-sense solutions that support the governments agenda for better health care. The policy solutions promoted by NSCSW are rooted in the social determinants of health, and long-overdue investments in social care.
The Nova Scotia College of Social Workers serves and protects Nova Scotians by effectively regulating the profession of social work. We work in solidarity with Nova Scotians to advocate for policies that improve social conditions, challenge injustice and value diversity.
For more information or to arrange interviews, contact: Rebecca Faria, communication coordinator for NSCSW (902-429-7799 ext. 227, email@example.com).
October 12, 2021
The Honourable Tim Houston
Premier of Nova Scotia
One Government Place
1713 Barrington St
Sent Via Email: PREMIER@novascotia.ca
Re: Open letter – NSCSW policy goals for the new legislature of Nova Scotia
Dear Premier Houston,
Congratulations on your election and the successful transition of government. Your message of hope for health care was well received by social workers, and we look forward to working with you on our shared goals for a fairer, more just, equitable Nova Scotia. As the first sitting of the legislature with your majority government begins, I would like to share the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers policy goals with your government, and all members of the Legislative Assembly, so that we can productively work together towards a better Nova Scotia.
At the root of the challenges faced by Nova Scotians (including the housing crisis, climate crisis, health care crisis, substance use and mental health crisis, and crisis in the provision of child welfare) is growing economic inequality which has entrenched inequity and injustice.
Nova Scotia has seen a steady trend of widening income inequality. In 1988, the income shares of the wealthiest ten percent in Nova Scotia were 11.1 times the income share of the bottom ten percent. Three decades later, top incomes in Nova Scotia grew to 16.3 times the income share of the bottom. This should be of great concern to any political leader, particularly during a global pandemic, as rising inequality and the continued class divide between the rich and the poor has allowed the voices of the most vulnerable, particularly those of our racialized communities and children and youth, to go unnoticed; has eroded trust, and has increased anxiety and illness for all.
This lack of trust appears to be growing. Engage Nova Scotia recently produced data demonstrating only 27.1% of Nova Scotians trust the provincial government. This corrodes the social solidarity required to tackle these large issues as it pits Nova Scotians against one another, fighting for resources perceived to be scarce rather than working together in solidarity towards the common good.
To address rising inequality we recommend that your government adopt the social policy framework that we developed in collaboration with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia (CCPA-NS): Creating the future we all deserve: A Social Policy Framework for Nova Scotia. This evidence-based report lays out what is required for a transformative social policy agenda in our province that will eliminate poverty and decrease inequality achieve greater equity and justice and create the social solidarity required to tackle these large issues.
On healthcare, there is no doubt that the current crisis has been brewing for years contributed to by various governments perpetually enacting austerity policies (expanding corporate influence in the process) to cut the cost of care, institutionalize new management systems, and centralize health services, leading to top-down bureaucratic systems. This has led to increasing managerialism which devalues and deskills professional competence and creates a management framework that is focused on liability and constantly searching for efficiencies rather than facilitating human connection. To address health care there must be a strong integration of social care and a focus on social determinants of health. As the Canadian Medical Association has mapped out, there is a direct correlation between stress on the health care system and lack of spending in social care. It is recommended that your government work to repair the social safety net in Nova Scotia. Childcare, labour standards like paid sick days, low wages, precarious work, and devastatingly low-income assistance rates must all be addressed.
On mental health and substance use, the NSCSW produced a compressive study in January of 2021. Repositioning Social Work in Mental Health found that both NSH and the IWK have implemented top-down decision-making, coupled with a limited understanding of the devastating impact Nova Scotia’s social safety net has on mental health and substance use; this has resulted in policy and programming that views substance use and mental health primarily as a biological concern and negates the social and political impact on prevention and healing. The paper provides 29 recommendations rooted through a Bio-Psycho-Social lens that will lead to more comprehensive and robust mental health and substance use policy and programming.
On housing, the crisis is not simply a lack of supply. Over the last twenty-five years plus, there has been very little non-market (public, social, co-operative) affordable housing built because of a lack of funding and leadership from all levels of government. The housing crisis is marked by gentrification and displacement, fueled by the financialization of the housing market. The financialization of housing occurs when housing is treated as a commodity—a vehicle for wealth and investment rather than a social good. The gaps in our social safety net have left many Nova Scotians living in deep poverty, whether because the income supports provided to them by the government are intentionally below the poverty line, or because labour laws including the regulated minimum wage are low. As a partner on the Housing for All Working Group we support the call for your government to commit to an investment of $531 million each year for the next 10 years to ensure that 33,000 units of permanent affordable housing can be built or acquired and maintained. We urge you to commit an average of an additional $161 million per year to operating spending over those 10 years to patch the social safety net to ensure folks can stay housed.
Child welfare in Nova Scotia is also in a state of crisis. The crisis is rooted in the colonial policies that sought to separate Indigenous children from their families, to control and surveil Black families, and the legacy of intergenerational trauma and poverty. As a result, Anti-Black racism, colonialism, trauma, and poverty continue to impact children and families today. Current fiscal and social policy has failed to address structural inequalities that undermine the well-being of families. Unfortunately changes to the Child and Family Services Act in 2017 have not improved outcomes for children youth and families. Instead, it has led to a more intrusive system embedded in social control and surveillance rather than a commitment to eradicating child and family poverty or providing culturally relevant trauma-focused mental health and substance use services, and robust disability supports. This has negatively impacted the well-being of Nova Scotia’s most vulnerable population. To tackle this crisis key areas your government should focus on:
Your Progressive Conservative party campaigned on a platform of common-sense solutions for all Nova Scotians. You pledged to work with organizations to ensure high standards of care and develop best practices. The Nova Scotia College of Social Workers would like to join you in creating a brighter future for all Nova Scotia through these policy goals.
Alec Stratford MSW, RSW
Nova Scotia College of Social Workers
Iain Rankin, Leader of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia
Gary Burrill Leader of the New Democratic Party of Nova Scotia
Every year, as the time gets closer to renewals, many NSCSW members find themselves with a number of questions related to professional development, and reach out to us and their colleagues for guidance.
We are listening and hear you! And we’re seeking member input on a proposal to revise the NSCSW’s Professional Development Standards for 2022:
We’re proposing these changes to the professional development standards to provide members with clearer expectations, as well as to identify required training and activities based on our current realities and research related to best practice. Concurrently, we’re working on developing easily accessible educational resources to assist members in completing these requirements, and in organizing their professional development to facilitate their successful annual registration renewal.
These proposed changes are also intended to promote the professional competency of registrants, in light of new recommendations by the Nova Scotia Regulated Health Professions Network and evolving research regarding best practices related to professional development. Furthermore, they are grounded in our professional Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, and are aligned with CASWE-accredited social work curricula.
Constantly working to improve the way that social workers in Nova Scotia are able to complete their professional development also enables the College to fulfill its mandate to regulate the profession in an effort to protect the public. However, these proposed improvements are not complete until our committee of members that have been revising these standards is able to hear from you, our members.
If you are unable to join one of the four online meetings we have planned, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts on these proposals. Your voice and perspective is important to us. Participation in this consultation can be included as part of a members’ informal professional development hours.
You can now complete your 2022 registration renewal online. Please follow the steps below to complete the renewal process.
We remain confident in our ability to help our members through the renewal process, though the pandemic has made adaptation necessary for everyone.
As we do every year, we strongly encourage you to consider early renewal as a gift to your future self.
Access your member portal.
Click on Professional Development in the menu, and select Activities.
Scroll down and find Add Activity.
Use this option to enter each of your professional development activities from 2021.
Professional development hours in social work ethics are tallied separately, because they are counted over five years, not one. Scroll down to see your multi-year total of ethics hours. If your ethics hours are due this year, you will need to make sure they are complete before you continue.
When you’re done, choose Submit to College from the menu.
Once your minimum hours are met, the Submit button on this page should change its colour to blue – click this to continue. Click Finish when you are done. A renewal form link will then appear on the front page of your member profile.
Complete the entire renewal form. Review all your information and confirm it’s correct.
Please make all your updates and changes before you submit the form.
There are three payment options:
If your employer is reimbursing you for registration fees, you may choose whether you prefer online or cheque payment. After your renewal is complete you can print copies of your receipt directly from your member profile, and submit them to your employer according to their internal process.
Payment is due no later than December 31 (see Late Renewal section below).
Your registration is renewed for 2022 once the College receives both your complete online renewal form and your payment of registration fees. You need to renew your registration to continue practicing social work in the new year.
Once your registration is renewed, you can print your receipt and proof of 2022 registration (i.e. certificate or wallet card) directly from your online member profile.
If you have retired or left the province and will not be renewing this year, please contact Ogo Okechukwu at Ogochukwu.Okechukwu@NSCSW.org.
If you have changed positions and believe you are no longer practicing within the Scope of Practice as defined by the Social Workers Act, you may apply for resignation by submitting a request and current job description to the College’s Executive Director/Registrar for review in accordance with Social Worker Regulation 26 (a). Please send requests for resignation to our Executive Director/Registrar Alec Stratford at Alec.Stratford@NSCSW.org.
The annual renewal process is a core NSCSW regulatory function. It confirms to the public that our members have the ethical foundation, skills and good character to practice social work in Nova Scotia.
Renewal is also an opportunity to reflect on your professional growth and development, and to bring to life the core social work value of integrity in professional practice. You’re recommitting to the values and standards of our profession and reflecting on your goals and commitment to lifelong learning.
Professional social work registration is a privilege our members can take pride in.
If a member’s registration is not renewed by December 31, it will be suspended on January 1. The member will need to pay an additional fee to reinstate their registration.
The Social Workers Act requires that individuals who practice social work in this province must be registered with our College. If a member’s registration is suspended, this may affect their employment.
It is each individual member’s responsibility to ensure their own registration is renewed on time. We encourage all members to consider completing their renewal as soon as possible.
On November 1 2021, we will randomly select a member who has completed all steps for their annual registration renewal before October 31. We will complete a second draw on December 2, from all members who completed renewal before November 30.
The two winners will each be offered free tickets to the College’s May 2022 conference, Social Work: Leading Transformational Change in 2022.
(College staff and Council are not eligible for these draws.)
Thursday September 30, 2021, the federal government of Canada observed its first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and we are grateful that Nova Scotia is amongst the provinces that has recognized it as well. Nevertheless, we call on its government to utilize this historic opportunity to immediately begin implementing the Commission’s calls to action.
Friday October 1 is Treaty Day, which commemorates the anniversary of our 1752 Treaty of Friendship and Peace. October 1 also marks the beginning of Mi’kmaq History Month in Nova Scotia, which was proclaimed in 1993 by Premier John Savage and Mi’kmaq Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy, and which was instituted to promote public awareness about the Mi’kmaq culture and heritage for all Nova Scotians.
For the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers, this time is an important opportunity to focus on the ways that we will integrate the principles of Truth and Reconciliation, as well as the findings of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Girls (MMIWG) into the fabric of our profession. This work is critical, urgent and far too late, yet nevertheless it must be done.
This summer, the College focused effort on ways to revise the professional development standards for Nova Scotian social workers, in order to incorporate some of these necessary calls to action, and integrate some of the current research regarding best practices in professional development.
Steps such as this are just part of the work we must do, to hold our profession and our institutions accountable for the ways in which we, as social workers, have participated and continue to participate in the profound intergenerational trauma that Indigenous communities have experienced and continue to experience. We acknowledge that the apology from the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) is also just step amongst many more that we all must take. For anyone who is interested in serving on a task force related to this topic, please contact email@example.com.
CASW President Joan Davis-Whelan recently affirmed that the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation “is an opportunity to not only look back at Canada’s history of genocide and colonialism, and especially with regards to residential schools, but also to reflect on the ways these forces are still at play today – and the critical work of reconciliation that remains to be done.”
We join with them in holding the federal government to account, calling for action on reconciliation following the lead of Indigenous people, communities, and organizations – and for the immediate implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ Calls to Justice, and to fully realizing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
We take these days, and indeed this month, to pause in reflection, learning and renewed commitment to the pressing and critical labour of reconciliation that this day seeks to inspire for each of us.
CONNECTION is the official newsletter of the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers.