Spring 2020

Further Considerations as Province Implements Stage 1 of its Framework for Reopening

plant growing on the sidewalk

The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (the College) anticipates that the Ontario Government’s recent announcement regarding the first stage in Ontario’s reopening framework may prompt questions from members regarding their return to practice. The Government’s announcement included a detailed list of stage 1 openings which can be found here. Members and other stakeholders can also learn more about stage 1 of the Government’s framework here.

The College previously provided members with a number of factors to consider as the Province implements its framework for reopening in its May 8, 2020 eBulletin.

Practice considerations

The College continues to take its cues from government and public health authorities and to monitor closely how these ongoing developments may impact members and other stakeholders. We remind members to do the same.

Notwithstanding the Government’s recent announcement, the College continues to strongly advise members to suspend all non-essential social work and social service work services, in compliance with the current provincial emergency orders.

The College cannot decide on behalf of individual members which of their services are essential and/or when it is safe and appropriate for them to resume in-person services. Members must make their own determination, based on:

  • their employment setting;
  • the sector and/or clients that they serve;
  • consultation with their employer and a review of relevant workplace policies; and
  • careful consideration of how safety and infection control measures apply to their practice and setting.

While some workplaces may re-open and some in-person services may resume as early as May 19, 2020, members must use their professional judgment to determine whether it is appropriate for them to do so at this time. Resuming in-person services may be permitted, but it is not required. Members are advised to use their professional judgment and to continue – wherever reasonably possible – to provide services by electronic means.

Members will need to consider a number of factors as they decide how and when they will return to practice. We encourage them to use the ETHICS-A: Ethical Decision-Making Tool to assist them in applying their professional judgment to this important decision.

Protecting members and the Ontario public

To ensure their own safety and that of the clients and communities they serve, members should consider the safety and infection control measures that must be in place and how these apply to their own practice and setting.

These measures may include, but are not limited to:

  • physical distancing
  • personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • screening/self-screening
  • regular cleaning and disinfection

While it falls outside the mandate of the College to comment on the specific precautionary practices that members should employ when they resume in-person practice, we advise them to seek this information from government and public health authorities. A number of relevant COVID-19 resources can be found below:

The College continues to provide recommendations that are intended 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.

For more information

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

For practice-related inquiries, please contact the College’s Professional Practice Department at practice@ocswssw.org.

Lise Betteridge, MSW, RSW
Registrar and CEO