Strategic Plan 2020-2023: An Overview of the Process and the College’s New Guiding Priorities

At the end of 2019, the Council of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (the College) embarked on a strategic planning process to identify the future direction and priorities for the College for the next four years. The result of this process was the newly approved Strategic Plan 2020-2023.

In this communication, we are pleased to share:

  • the Strategic Plan, including key priorities and objectives;
  • a Strategy Map, showing the Strategic Plan and priorities “at a glance”; and
  • further background as to how input from key stakeholders was gathered, considered and/or reflected in the final document.

Strategic Planning Process

The College was committed throughout the strategic planning process to ensuring that there was an opportunity for key stakeholders to give input and to consider whether and how that feedback might be integrated.

As part of the consultations, stakeholders were asked:

  • to reflect on the College’s progress in relation to its Strategic Plan 2016-2019;
  • to comment on the broader environment; and
  • to share their ideas as to how the College might renew its priorities.

In addition to consulting with stakeholders, the College was careful to ensure that the planning process:

  • reflected the College’s regulatory mandate;
  • remained grounded in the College’s mission, vision and core values; and
  • was responsive to regulatory trends.

In accordance with the objects set out in the Social Work and Social Service Work Act, 1998, the College:

  • Regulates the practice of social work and the practice of social service work and governs its members.
  • Develops, establishes and maintains qualifications for membership in the College.
  • Approves ongoing education programs for the purpose of continuing education for members of the College.
  • Provides for the ongoing education of members of the College.
  • Issues certificates of registration to members of the College and renews, amends, suspends, cancels, revokes and reinstates those certificates.
  • Establishes and enforces professional and ethical standards applicable to members of the College.
  • Receives and investigates complaints against members of the College and deals with the issues of discipline, professional misconduct, incompetence and incapacity.
  • Promotes high standards and quality assurance with respect to social work and social service work and communicates with the public on behalf of the members.

Stakeholder groups

As part of the information-gathering process, the College consulted with the following stakeholder groups:

  • College members
    • Survey
  • Other stakeholders (employers, educators, associations, other provincial regulators, Canadian social work regulators)
    • Survey
    • Interviews
  • Council members
    • In-person focus groups
    • Survey
  • College staff
    • In-person focus groups
    • Interviews

Following the consultations, Council members participated in a facilitated full-day strategic planning session, in preparation for which they reviewed the consultation findings, results from the environmental scan and a number of other background materials. These facilitated discussions assisted Council in identifying potential priorities and areas of focus and ultimately, in developing the College’s new Strategic Plan.

Feedback from all stakeholders was carefully reviewed and considered as part of the College’s commitment to an open and transparent strategic planning process; the Strategic Plan reflects those issues and priorities which fall within the College’s mandate.


Council’s careful consideration of the feedback received from various stakeholders has ensured that the College’s new Strategic Plan responds to important issues impacting the regulation of the professions and provides clarity with respect to its direction and priorities moving forward.

The overview below is grouped by theme and shows commonly recurring comments received during the stakeholder consultation process:

Title protection

  • Hold people to title protection
  • Expand requirement that people in certain jobs be social workers

Advocacy for the professions

  • Advocate for members (salary, benefits)
  • Ensure members are hired
  • Promote the professions to students/at schools
  • Advocate for the professions

Continuing Competence Program (CCP)

  • Consider whether CCP is an adequate assessment
  • Create better accountability within the CCP
  • Incorporate audit process into the CCP

Standards of Practice

  • Continue to emphasize standards
  • Clarify scope of practice
  • Clarify the distinctions between RSWs and RSSWs

Practice support

  • Develop standards and guidelines on electronic practice (e-support, internet and text counselling)
  • Offer more monthly webinar series
  • Provide more education, support and resources to members
  • Address ethical dilemmas in practice
  • Support members experiencing mental health issues/compassion fatigue

Complaints/discipline processes

  • Address extended complaints process
  • Make complaints process faster and more effective
  • Enforce stronger sanctions for members who have violated practice standards

Children’s Aid Societies (CAS)

  • Make registration of CAS/child protection workers mandatory
  • Regulate CAS workers

Government advocacy

  • Strengthen government relations
  • Ensure our “place at the table”
  • Create public advisory group

Public and stakeholder awareness

  • Educate the public re: the professions
  • Educate the public on the difference between SWs and counselors/psychotherapists
  • Enhance public awareness, transparency and understanding of the College’s regulatory role
  • Increase perception of accountability to the public
  • Advocate with employers about the importance of registration
  • Maintain awareness and increase profile


  • Reflect holistic and Indigenous forms of SW/SSW practice
  • Educate members re: the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
  • Increase board diversity (% of minorities)
  • Increase visibility with certain populations e.g. Indigenous work

Registration processes

  • Address application processing time
  • Explore next steps/incorporate an entry to practice exam for new SWs and SSWs
  • Technology
  • Make better use of technology
  • Support rural and remote members’ use of technology
  • Use technology for education/training.

Thank you to all those who provided their invaluable insights and ideas as part of the College’s strategic planning process. Your feedback is critical to the College’s continued success.

Should you have questions regarding the Strategic Plan, please contact the Communications Department at