Join us in dismantling hatred in health care

10 – 11 a.m. on January 26, 2023

RSVP to nsiritsky@nscsw.org

All NSCSW social workers are invited to participate in a special anonymous feedback session to provide valuable insight for a working group for a Health Equity Framework (HEF) for the province’s healthcare system. In particular, members of historically marginalized and oppressed communities are asked to provide input in order to help create a plan to dismantle the colonization and racism that remains far too present in our health care systems.

Health inequity is a terrifying example of the ways in which social injustices translate into concrete outcomes: people who are poor and marginalized are far more likely to get sick and die than their more privileged counterparts. Recent reports illustrate the ways that this plays out in our community, and are the reason why Nova Scotia has begun to collect race-based data as part of the Fair Care Project.

While this is a wonderful start, collecting data is not enough. Every minute that our policies do not align with our values, people’s lives are at risk. It is therefore imperative that we prioritize advocacy to ensure health equity within the province’s healthcare system. We can be proud of our dedicated advocacy on this issue, which has helped to ensure that we are being invited to consult and participate in the planning of new and better health care policy.

NSCSW social workers are therefore invited to take part in an important conversation to advance our organizational social justice advocacy goals, as we seek to create a community where policies reflect the evidence-based principles reflected in our Social Policy Framework, jointly created with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia (CCPA-NS). This framework is designed to be at the root of this change. It creates a road map for arriving at a fair and just Nova Scotia, and it invites each of us to realign our commitments and responsibilities so that the steps that this road map demands from each of us are prioritized.

Our recent Repositioning Social Work Practice in Mental Health report identified a significant barrier that many social workers experience, leading to severe moral distress for 97% of our members. Our organizational advocacy efforts, spearheaded by our social justice committee, have sought to address this moral distress by serving as an outlet for our collective anger and grief around the continued injustices that we witness daily in our work. Every time we work with a family that is struggling, we are aware of the larger systemic factors impacting their ability to thrive. This fact is the driving force in our collective organizational advocacy efforts to transform the systems within which we work.

This Health Equity Framework is to be released in July 2023, and is a requirement of Bill 96 (The Dismantling Racism and Hate Act), which was passed in Spring 2022. We are excited to be asked to participate in this important initiative that is being led by the Department of Health & Wellness (DHW) with partners across the health system. While there are complexities regarding the causes of health inequity (including factors like education that are out of DHW’s control), the health system directly influences the health of the populations it serves. The HEF will call for actions across Nova Scotia’s health system to make it more accessible and effective for those who need it and/or work within it.

The first step of development is engagement with stakeholder groups. NSCSW members have been invited to join a special meeting to discuss experiences of the healthcare system, and in particular, those of marginalized groups. Please contact N Siritsky if you would like to participate, by emailing: nsiritsky@nscsw.org.

NSCSW members who are not able to attend the feedback session on January 26 are invited to share their experience (anonymously) regarding equity, diversity and inclusion by visiting the online public engagement page:

We are proud and grateful for these early steps, and recognize that there is much work that needs to be done. We look forward to continuing to partner with DHW in its development of this report, as well as some of the possible policy solutions that can be developed to dismantle hatred in health care in Nova Scotia.

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