Outcomes of the May 2023 special general meeting

Strengthening the NSCSW’s commitment to diversity & inclusivity

The Nova Scotia College of Social Workers (NSCSW) recently held a special general meeting to discuss and vote on important by-law amendments aimed at enhancing representation, inclusivity, and cultural responsiveness within the organization. The proposed changes were thoroughly discussed, and the motion to adopt these by-laws was passed. The meeting was recorded, and can be watched online, and the entire up-to-date by-law documentation is also on our website.

Here is an overview of the key outcomes from this meeting:

Section 9(2) – Additional Council Seats

The introduction of a new social work program at Cape Breton University necessitated an amendment to the current by-laws to allow for representation of faculty and students at that institution. This change will provide a connection between the decision-making structures at the university’s new faculty and at NSCSW, giving voice to those directly involved in the social work program and providing an invaluable source of input for the council.

Section 28 – Used Name in Registry

Many registries still rely on legal names instead of those used by individuals, which can be exclusionary to a vulnerable population. The adoption of a by-law amendment to update the registry ensures the representation of the names that our members actually use, an essential step towards aligning with the trans rights movement.

Sections 29 and 30(2) – Eligibility of Members & Rights of Members

These by-law changes are necessary to provide clarity on additional membership categories, better define the associate status, and define who meets the criteria for active participation in committees and other membership functions.

Section 31 – Definition of Good Standing

Clarifying the definition of “good standing” in the by-laws ensures that members of the College and the public have a clear understanding of what is expected to maintain good standing.

Section 34 – Approved Universities

Removing this section is a correction. The Social Workers Act does not explicitly provide authority for the by-laws to approve Universities. The act places this in the purview of the council, which has the ability to create governance policies to approve universities.

Previously the Canadian Association of Social Work Educators (CASWE) was the only approved accreditor of Canadian social work programs, and the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) assessed credentials of internationally trained applicants to determine whether they could be considered equivalent. By amending governance policy to add the National Indigenous Accreditation Board (NIAB) as an equivalent assessor of academic programs, the NSCSW council will allow for a more culturally-sensitive approach to evaluating programs, since NIAB is specifically focused on Indigenous issues and perspectives.

Section 37(1) – Payment of Fees

Allowing the council to change the deadline for renewal, should it need, provides flexibility in deadlines, allowing for greater adaptability and responsiveness to unexpected changes or issues. This helps ensure that if there are system issues or external factors outside of the College’s control, the deadline can be adapted.

The modest fee increase of 1% that will take effect for 2024 registration was well within the scope of the existing by-laws, and did not require an amendment or vote. These small annual increases have provided much-needed stability to this organization and its members.

Clinical Social Work

The meeting also covered the rationale for clinical social work by-law changes, including a comprehensive review of how NSCSW regulates private practice, the collection of qualitative data, report findings, consultation feedback, and clinical specialization by-laws. These changes aim to strengthen the profession and better serve diverse communities in Nova Scotia.

We will share in the next month a more definitive timeline for these changes.

In Conclusion

Our special general meeting in May marked a significant step forward for the NSCSW, demonstrating its commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and cultural responsiveness within the organization. These by-law amendments will undoubtedly contribute to a more equitable and just environment for social workers, their clients, and the broader community.

Alec Stratford
Executive Director/Registrar