Fall 2020

9 Important Milestones in College History: Marking 20 Years of Public Protection

20th anniversary

This year, the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers marked its 20-year anniversary.

Since its creation, the College has experienced a lot of change – technological, regulatory and, of course, related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The College has also grown as an organization and achieved a great deal over the years, not the least of which is our evolution as a leader in the regulatory community.

Acknowledging the College’s 20th anniversary cannot be done without recognizing our founding Registrar Glenda McDonald, MSW, RSW, who passed away five years ago. Glenda had a long and celebrated career as a social worker and was a driving force behind the establishment of the College.

In recognition of the College’s 20th anniversary, we look back at some important milestones in College history.

1. The beginning

The College was created when the Province of Ontario fully proclaimed the Social Work and Social Service Work Act (SWSSWA) on August 15, 2000, with a mandate to serve and protect the public interest. Since its creation, the College has grown considerably – from approximately 7,800 members in 2001 to more than 23,000 today. And this number continues to grow!

2. First discipline hearing

As part of its public protection mandate, the College is required to have rigorous complaints and discipline processes. The College held its first Discipline Committee hearing in March 2003, nearly three years after its creation. The production of the Discipline Committee has grown since then, with 11 hearings held in 2019 alone.

3. The PHIPA Toolkit

In 2005, the College published its Privacy Toolkit for Social Workers and Social Service Workers (commonly called the “PHIPA Toolkit”) as a guide for members to navigate Ontario’s then recently passed Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA). The PHIPA Toolkit has stood the test of time and remains a top resource for social workers and social service workers.

4. Continuing Competence Program

After many years of planning and consideration, College Council approved the creation of the Continuing Competence Program (CCP) at its December 2008 meeting. The CCP – which is mandatory for all College members (except those holding a retired class of certificate of registration) – ensures that social workers and social service workers are qualified, enhance their knowledge on an ongoing basis, and remain up to date in their practice throughout their careers. The CCP is one of the ways the College fulfills its public protection mandate.

5. AMED goes virtual

The Annual Meeting and Education Day (AMED) is one of the College’s most popular educational offerings. As part of its efforts to leverage technology and increase accessibility, the College made the 2016 iteration of AMED available via livestream. The initiative was a great success and we have since added more virtual offerings, including this year’s Educational Forums, Professional Practice webinars and videos.

6. Employer outreach campaign

The College initiated a multi-pronged employer outreach campaign in 2017. The ongoing campaign includes digital advertising and virtual and in-person events, and resulted in the creation of an employer quiz and the College’s quarterly Employer Communiqué.

7. The College’s first controlled act

After years of College engagement with its government and regulatory stakeholders, the controlled act of psychotherapy was proclaimed into force by the Government of Ontario on December 30, 2017. As a result of our collective efforts, College members may now perform psychotherapy and use the title “psychotherapist,” provided they do so in compliance with the SWSSWA, the regulations and the bylaws.

8. “What’s in a Name?” public awareness campaign

In 2019, the College launched its ongoing public awareness campaign, “What’s in Name? Protection for You,” to enhance awareness of the College, its regulatory role and the Online Register. The campaign – in conjunction with the College’s employer outreach efforts – has already increased Ontarians’ awareness of the College (by four percentage points) and continues to drive traffic to the Online Register, which saw a 70% increase in visits in 2019.

9. ETHICS->A Tool

The College introduced its ETHICS→A: Ethical Decision-Making Tool in 2019 to assist social workers and social service workers in considering ethical issues and applying their professional judgment. The ETHICS->A Tool includes an accompanying video and has been downloaded thousands of times since its publication.

Moving forward, we will continue to aspire to new heights in our mission to serve and protect Ontarians and reach new milestones along the way! For more information on the College and its initiatives, please contact communications@ocswssw.org.