Decisions & outcomes

Disciplinary actions

As the regulator of social workers in Nova Scotia we are required to inform the public about social workers who have engaged in professional misconduct, as per the Social Workers Act and Sections 43 and 44 of the Social Worker Regulations. (Information subject to a publication ban will be omitted or redacted.)

A tally of the number of complaints received and resolved by the College is published in the College’s annual report each year. Specific decision findings are attached to the profiles of current and former members in the public registry, where they will be seen when searching for those members by name. Decisions published since December 2020 are also listed on this page.

By publishing decisions, the College intends to:

  • Fulfil our mandate to protect the public.
  • Illustrate for social workers and the public what does — and does not — constitute professional misconduct.
  • Provide social workers with direction about the College’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics, and what is expected of members should they find themselves in similar circumstances.
  • Provide social workers and the public with an understanding of the College’s discipline process, as well as emerging trends in the profession and issues relevant to the profession.
  • Build public confidence in the College’s ability to ensure that Nova Scotians can rely on professional, ethical social work practice.

The publication of disciplinary decisions is not unique to the College but rather is the standard set for the Nova Scotia Regulated Health Professions Network.

Specific and general deterrence

The publication of disciplinary decisions protects the public by serving as a form of specific and general deterrence. Specifically, the College expects that it will deter the particular member involved from engaging in further acts of professional misconduct or acts that indicate the member is incompetent. From a general deterrence standpoint, the publication of decisions signals to the members of the College what constitutes professional misconduct or incompetence — and the penalties they will face if they commit similar acts of professional misconduct— thereby deterring other College members from engaging in such conduct.

The open court principle

Publishing disciplinary decisions is consistent with the general principle of openness and transparency in legal proceedings, including the disciplinary proceedings of regulatory bodies — a concept often referred to as the “open court” principle. At the root of the open court principle is the idea that in order to maintain confidence in legal proceedings, including the disciplinary proceedings of regulatory bodies, there should be a way for the public to have a window into the decisions of decision-makers. In short: transparency builds trust.

Publishing decisions also serves as a way of educating the public and College members about issues that are relevant to the profession.

Treatment of personal information

Published decisions will generally include the name of the College member involved. However, information that could reveal the identity of any witnesses or clients — or information that is subject to a publication ban — is removed as necessary or is modified so that the witness or client cannot be identified.

February 17, 2022 — Consent reprimand

The NSCSW Complaints Committee issued a reprimand with consent for conduct unbecoming.

Download decision summary (PDF)

March 17, 2021 — Venessa Downing — Consent reprimand

The NSCSW Complaints Committee issued a reprimand with consent to Ms. Venessa Downing for breach of the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.

Download decision summary (PDF)

January 15, 2021 — Ryanne Rhodenizer — Registration revoked

Reinstated March 2, 2022

The NSCSW revoked Ms. Rhodenizer’s license to practice social work due to professional misconduct, conduct unbecoming the profession, a breach of the Standards of Practice and a breach of the Code of Ethics. She was permitted to apply for reinstatement after one year, once conditions were met.

Download decision summary (PDF)

Read reinstatement summary

December 4, 2020 — Eileen Carey — Registration revoked

The NSCSW has permanently revoked Ms. Carey’s license to practice social work due to professional misconduct, conduct unbecoming the profession, incompetence and a breach of the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.

Download decision summary (PDF)

Unregulated professionals

Section 5 of the Social Workers Act provides that the NSCSW has a duty to serve and protect the public interest; preserve the integrity of the social work profession; and, maintain public confidence in the ability of the social work profession to regulate itself.

The NSCSW achieves this mandate, in part, by ensuring that only those fully qualified are entitled to practice social work in Nova Scotia.

Protected titles

In Nova Scotia, Section 55(1)of the Social Workers Act states that a person not registered to practice as a social worker pursuant to this Act, or whose registration is revoked or suspended, and who (a) practices as a social worker; (b) uses the title of “Social Worker,” “Registered Social Worker” or “Social Worker Candidate” or makes use of any abbreviation of such title, or any name, title or designation which may lead to the belief that the person is a social worker, is in violation of the act.

This means that anyone who uses these titles, an abbreviation of these titles, or the French language equivalents, must be registered with the College:

  • Social Worker
  • Registered Social Worker
  • Social Worker Candidate

Using any of the protected titles without being registered is illegal. It is also illegal for an individual to hold out expressly or by implication that they are a social worker without being registered. Individuals who use the protected titles illegally or who hold out as if they are social workers are considered unregulated practitioners.

The public is strongly encouraged to always check the College’s online register to confirm the registration status of an individual who claims to be a social worker.

The following individuals have been found in violation of section 55 of the Social Workers Act

December 20, 2021 — Leanne (Dawn) Archambault — Unauthorized practise and permanent injunction

The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia declared that Ms. Archambault contravened subsection 55(1) of the Social Workers Act.

Download decision summary (PDF)

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