The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (the College) is providing an update in light of the province’s most recent announcement, as part of our ongoing commitment to providing College members and other stakeholders with updates related to the impact of COVID-19.
The Ontario government announced that it had declared a second provincial emergency order in response to the continued rise in COVID-19 cases and the alarming risks posed to the province’s healthcare system and long-term care homes. The emergency order takes effect on January 14, 2021 for a total of 28 days, until February 11, 2021.
As Registrar and CEO, I recognize that the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases and the most recent stay-at-home order may create further anxiety, adding to what is already an extremely challenging time for members and other stakeholders – both personally and professionally. We continue to take our cues from government and public health authorities and we remind members to do the same.
Reminder – Practice considerations
While some members may be permitted to provide in-person services because of the nature of the services they provide and in accordance with the stay-at-home order (Ontario Regulation 11/21) and the rules for areas in stage 1 (Ontario Regulation 10/21), the College strongly advises all members to continue, wherever reasonably possible, to provide services by electronic means.
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 provide 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.
We encourage members to use the ETHICS->A: Ethical Decision-Making Tool to assist them in applying their professional judgment to this important decision.
As noted in a number of our eBulletins – most recently in our December 23, 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
The College will continue to monitor the situation very closely and to provide further communications regarding new provincial updates which may impact members, as they become available.
We remind members to visit the College’s centralized webpage for all things related to COVID-19, including College resources, links to government and public health authorities, and eBulletins which have been sent to members and other stakeholders throughout the pandemic.
As these challenges continue, we thank you for your ongoing dedication and urge you to do all that you can to keep well and stay safe.
Lise Betteridge, MSW, RSW
Registrar and CEO