In light of last week’s provincial announcement, which moved Toronto and Peel into “Lockdown” effective Monday, November 23, 2020, the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (the College) would like to take this opportunity to provide an update as to how these ongoing developments may impact members and other stakeholders.
As part of its new response framework, the province made the decision to move Toronto and Peel into “Lockdown” as of Monday, November 23, 2020 until December 21, 2020. The period may be extended by the province. The Lockdown is intended to respond to rapidly rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in both areas, and to ensure the health and safety of all Ontarians.
The College recognizes that these new measures may add to what is already an extremely challenging time for members – both personally and professionally. We continue to take our cues from government and public health authorities and we remind members to do the same.
Regulation 82/20 as amended by O. Reg. 654/20 (the Lockdown Regulation) made under the province’s Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 relates to public health unit regions in Lockdown: as of November 23, 2020, being Toronto and Peel. The Lockdown Regulation lists professionals or organizations that provide in-person counselling services as businesses that may open. Members may also provide other services that are listed as businesses that may open under the Lockdown Regulation. It is important to note that there are a number of requirements set out in the Lockdown Regulation with which all businesses that may open must comply.
While some members may be permitted to provide in-person services (either because of the region in which they practise and/or the nature of the services they provide), the College strongly advises all members to continue, wherever reasonably possible, to provide services by electronic means.
As noted in an October 2, 2020 eBulletin and a November 6, 2020 eBulletin, members should ensure that they are up-to-date with respect to information and guidance from government and public health authorities and familiar with previous College communications regarding:
- safety and infection control measures;
- considerations for members regarding in-person practice; and
- key considerations for members in private practice.
Members are also advised to consult the College’s practice resources regularly, including:
- COVID-19 Updates webpage
- Top 6 considerations for virtual services
- FAQs on cross-jurisdictional practice
- ETHICS->A: Ethical Decision-Making Tool
Protecting members and the Ontario public
The College’s recommendations are intended to protect the health and well-being of members and the Ontario public. Ontarians – including College members must remain vigilant in adhering to health and safety measures to ensure their own safety and that of the clients and communities they serve. We all have a collective responsibility to do our part to reduce the spread of the virus.
The College will continue to monitor ongoing developments very closely and to provide further communications regarding new provincial updates which may impact members as they become available.
The level of public health measures in different regions can be found in Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework.
Thank you for your ongoing dedication and service.
Keep well and stay safe.
Lise Betteridge, MSW, RSW
Registrar and CEO