What Members Need to Know: COVID-19

What Members Need to Know: COVID-19

The College continues to monitor the ongoing developments related to COVID-19 and is committed to providing College members and other stakeholders with ongoing updates and information.

Professional Practice support

While the College’s physical office remains closed, we have resumed many regulatory operations remotely. The Professional Practice team continues to provide practice support and guidance to help College members and protect the public during these challenging times. In order to ensure we provide efficient and timely services on a remote basis, we request that all practice inquiries be sent via email to practice@ocswssw.org.

We continue to update the FAQs on the COVID-19 Updates webpage in order to address questions from members and other stakeholders in an ongoing way. These updates are part of our continued commitment to transparency and to provide members and other stakeholders with clear and accurate information. Please note the date at the top of the FAQs section which confirms when the FAQs were last updated.

Below are three of the most frequently asked questions received by the Professional Practice Department:

Q. Can I provide services by electronic means?

In the current crisis, members may wish to consider options for providing services by electronic means – through the use of any electronic device (including a computer, tablet, smartphone or landline) or any electronic format (including the Internet, social media, online chat, text, video, or email). Before doing so, members must ensure that they are competent to provide such services. Members may wish to read the following College resource to determine whether or not they are competent to provide services by electronic means:

They should also consider a number of other important factors, including security and privacy, which are addressed in the following College resources:

Q. If providing services by electronic means, what platform does the College recommend?

The decision about what platform to use to provide services by electronic means is one that members must make themselves, using their professional judgment. If a member deems that they are competent to provide services by electronic means, the College advises that the member consider security and privacy as well as the issues discussed in the resources listed in the question above, when selecting a platform.

Q. If I am redeployed to work in another area of my workplace, what should I consider if I am requested to perform other tasks?

College members must ensure that they are competent before performing a task that has been assigned as part of a redeployment.1 Among other things, members should consider:

  • whether they have received adequate training and will receive appropriate supervision to perform the task safely;
  • whether the task is a controlled act under the Regulated Health Professions Act 2; and
  • whether or not the performance of the task conflicts or is inconsistent with the Standards of Practice.

College members may also wish to contact their professional liability insurance provider, consider relevant legislation, and obtain a legal opinion if necessary.

In some instances, a member may feel that they are not prepared to perform a task, even though they have received training. If this is the case, the member should raise this concern with their manager or other appropriate person and seek alternate redeployment.

Suspending all non-essential services

As noted in the March 20, 2020 eBulletin and in the March 25, 2020 eBulletin, we are strongly advising College members to suspend all non-essential social work and social service work services until further notice, in compliance with the provincial shutdown of all non-essential businesses and services effective March 24, 2020. For more information on this announcement, please read the Government of Ontario’s news release here. For a list of essential businesses and services as of April 4, 2020 (11:59 p.m.), please visit the following webpage. The government regulation (O. Reg. 82/20 as amended by O. Reg. 119/20 – Closure Regulation) sets out the essential businesses and services and other requirements. Schedule 2 of the Closure Regulation lists the essential businesses and services.

The College cannot decide whether a member should suspend their social work or social service work services and/or which of the services that they provide are essential. We encourage members to review the March 25, 2020 eBulletin and the Closure Regulation and to use their professional judgment to make these decisions, considering as well their employment setting and the sector and/or clients that they serve.

Contacting the College

While the College’s physical office remains closed, we have resumed many regulatory operations remotely. Members, who may understandably have a variety of inquiries, are asked to contact the College via email as follows:

Please note that there may be delays in response time during this period. We encourage members to review the FAQs before emailing the College directly with an inquiry.

We recognize the significant and ongoing impact the pandemic has on members and other stakeholders, as well as our collective responsibility to do our part to reduce the spread of this virus. We thank members and other stakeholders for their patience during this challenging time.

Future updates

Please visit the College’s website and Twitter account regularly for updates and further communications related to COVID-19.


1 OCSWSSW, The Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice Handbook, Second Edition, 2008, Principle II: Competence and Integrity, Interpretation 2.1.1
2 Controlled acts are procedures that are considered to pose a risk of harm to clients/patients and in Ontario may only be performed under certain circumstances.