Raising expectations for Nova Scotia’s future

National Social Work Month is an opportunity to reflect on how we enact the values of our profession within the communities where we live and practice. This month, the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers, in partnership with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia (CCPA-NS), released a new report titled Creating the future we all deserve: A social policy framework for Nova Scotia.

The NSCSW is incredibly proud to partner with CCPA-NS on this important framework. Our profession is founded on humanitarian and egalitarian ideals. We envision and work towards a society that promotes social, economic and political equity. We acknowledge that significant change needs to happen at the local, community, provincial, national and global level, in order for the injustices and harms that we see daily to be addressed or remedied. The profession works in solidarity with our clients, organizations and communities, and with Nova Scotians who are vulnerable, oppressed and dealing with the hurtful outcomes of society. This is why the NSCSW is so proud to partner with the CCPA-NS to create this important tool. It is our hope that the framework will be utilized by all Nova Scotians to transform our society into one that belongs to all of us: one that is grounded in shared responsibility for creating a strong, connected, and supportive society.

The Social Policy Framework is being introduced at a critical time in Nova Scotia as we have continued to see our governments, at all levels, implement policies and programs that have resulted in greater inequity. In the past three decades, we have seen increasing globalization along with the rise of neo-liberalism and unprecedented technological change. This has had a profound impact on our climate, our workforce and the overall well-being of our society. These trends have combined to leave the most vulnerable Nova Scotians to carry the greatest burden of these decisions. Our political system has failed to develop an economy and public services that are inclusive of all Nova Scotians. Governments have continued to mark their success on the growth and expansion of the economy with hopes that a growing economy will bene t all. This approach has led our political leaders to ignore the indicators that the overall well-being of our population continues to deteriorate, which leads them to put their head in the sand when it comes to creating public policy that would positively impact our health, climate and economy.

The need for progressive organizations to add to the political dialogue with thoughtful progressive social policy solutions is now greater than ever if we are to capture the hope and aspirations for a society in which all Nova Scotians ourish. The goal of the social policy framework is for organizations to raise their voices and counter the trends that have led to:

  • Rising inequality and the continued class divide between the rich and the poor, which have allowed the voices of oppressed particularly those of our racialized communities to go unnoticed, eroded trust, and increased anxiety and illness for all;
  • Entrenchment of the patriarchy, which has pitted rational thought against emotional thought and devalues the work of professional care which is predominantly done by women;
  • Governments enacting austerity policies (expanding corporate in uence in the process) to cut the cost of care, institutionalize new management systems, and centralize government services, leading to highly top-down bureaucratic systems;
  • Managerialism that devalues and deskills professional competence, and creates a management framework which aims to run govern- ment services like a business — searching for e ciencies rather than promoting human connection.

These trends have had a profound impact on the ability of Nova Scotians to receive the services and care that they rely on, and to make our economy one that works for all of us. What is needed is a fundamental paradigm shift in our political goals. As Nova Scotians, we need to ensure that the goal of increasing well-being is equal to the goal of a developing a strong economy. The Social Policy Framework is designed to be at the root of this change. It creates a vision and a road map for Nova Scotians that:

  • Addresses inequality through public policy aimed at redistributing wealth and building an economy that works for everyone, creating a society where political decisions are made in the interest of all, not for an elite few.
  • Addresses the need to work for the public good through public policy that focuses on climate justice, investments in health and social services, the decolonization of public service and that values professional care.
  • Addresses the need to build public policy through collaborative decision-making embedded in an intersectional lens. Through this process, we can support participatory communities in which all voices are heard.
  • Addresses systemic oppression through public policy that leads to transformative change. Policy that supports all of us to acknowledge oppressive attitudes and assumptions by allowing us to share our stories and heal the hurts imposed by our conditioning, to act in the present in a humane and caring manner, to rebuild our human connection.

We hope that this framework provides you with inspiration and hope that a more fair, just and progressive Nova Scotia is possible.

Alec Stratford
NSCSW Executive Director/Registrar

» Download Creating the future we all deserve: A social policy framework for Nova Scotia

» Watch the recording of the media conference on our Facebook page