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.
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.
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.
Alec Stratford, RSW
NSCSW Executive Director/Registrar