With the recent news that the Ontario Government is extending its provincial emergency orders until May 19, 2020, the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (the College) continues to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on members and other stakeholders. We would like to take this opportunity to provide members with a number of factors to consider as the Province implements its framework for reopening.
Adhering to guidance from government and public health authorities
In light of the Ontario Government’s announcements, the College is closely monitoring how these developments may impact members and their practice as well as our own organization.
The College continues to strongly advise members to suspend all non-essential social work and social service work services, in compliance with provincial emergency orders, until further notice and/or such time as these orders are lifted. For more information on the government’s announcement, please read the news release here.
The College cannot decide on behalf of individual members which of their services are essential. Members must make their own determination, based on their employment setting as well as the sector and/or clients that they serve, in consultation with their employer and following a review of relevant workplace policies.
As we continue to take our cues from government and public health authorities, we remind members to do the same. The Public Services Health and Safety Association provides a number of COVID-19 resources and guidance for workers and employer which can be found here.
Ensuring ethical and professional practice
We are committed to supporting members in delivering ethical and professional care and services to the communities they serve, recognizing that these may look different in the extenuating circumstances related to the pandemic.
Members are advised to use their professional judgment and to continue – wherever possible – to provide services by electronic means. Members should also consider a number of important factors, many of which are addressed in the following College resources:
- Professional and Ethical: Communication Technology Practices and Policies for a Digital World
- Communication Technology and Ethical Practice: Evolving Issues in a Changing Landscape
- Top 10 Considerations for Using Communication Technology in Practice
- “But How Do I Know If I’m Competent?” – Issues to Consider
- Terminating Social Work and Social Service Work Services
The College recognizes that some members will need to consider a number of factors as they decide how and when they will return to practice. We encourage these members to use the Ethics→A: Ethical Decision-Making Tool which is designed to assist members in applying their professional judgment to practice decisions and dilemmas and provide a process for them to follow. It falls outside the mandate of the College to comment on the specific precautionary practices that members should employ when they resume face-to-face practice, and they are advised to seek this information from government and public health authorities.
Protecting members and the Ontario public
The College believes that its recommendations will help to protect the health and well-being of both members and the Ontario public. We remain committed to providing support to our members as part of our ongoing mandate of public protection during this unprecedented time.
The College will continue to provide members and other stakeholders with further communications as circumstances change. Please visit the College’s website and Twitter account regularly for updates related to COVID-19.