08 Jun 2021

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Group – Update

The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers has selected a  Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Task Group to assist us in moving forward on our commitment to increase diversity, equity and inclusion – a key priority in the College’s 2020-2023 Strategic Plan.

Selection process

The Executive Committee faced an extremely difficult task in selecting five non-Council members of the College from among the 112 expressions of interest received. The Committee carefully reviewed the members’:

  • powerful personal accounts of their lived experience;
  • descriptions showing a range of social work and social service work experience; and
  • thoughtful statements reflecting members’ deep desire to contribute to the College’s work in this important area.

The following criteria were considered in the selection process:

  • a demonstrated commitment to advancing issues of diversity, equity and inclusion;
  • lived experience, with priority being given to members who are Black, Indigenous or people of colour, and/or from other equity-seeking groups;
  • relevant work and/or volunteer experience; and
  • an understanding of, and support for, the role and the public protection mandate of the College.

DEI Task Group members

We are pleased to confirm the following members of the Task Group:

  • Durel Allen, RSW, Council Member
  • Amanda Bettencourt, RSSW, Council Member
  • Charlene Crews, RSSW, Council Member
  • Sanjay Govindaraj, RSW, Council Member (Co-Chair)
  • Mukesh Kowlessar, RSSW (President of the College Council)
  • Chun Kit Leung, RSSW
  • Carrie McEachran, Public Member, Council Member
  • Yusra Osman, RSW
  • Brian Seng-Low, RSSW
  • Déirdre Smith, Public Member, Council Member
  • Sandra Southwind, RSW
  • Natasha Young, RSW

While it was not possible to fully represent the diversity of the Ontario public and of College members, the Task Group includes representation from Black, East/Southeast Asian, Indigenous, LGBTQ+, South Asian, and Muslim communities, as well as persons living with a disability.

Consideration was also given to geographical and sector (social work and social service work) representation, and to balancing the current diversity among Council members.

Next steps

The Task Group will be co-chaired by Sanjay Govindaraj, RSW, and a non-Council member of the College who will be selected by the Task Group at its first meeting.

In accordance with its Terms of Reference, the Task Group will provide recommendations and advise Council on:

  • the potential for, and/or existence of, systemic and structural racism, discrimination and/or bias within the College’s statutory, regulatory and governance policies and processes;
  • strategies, including bylaw and policy amendments, standards, guidelines and other tools to address any identified issues;
  • an approach to the development of partnerships with Indigenous communities to begin to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s calls to action within the regulatory sector; and
  • the engagement of community groups and leaders in the activities of the Task Group.

The Task Group expects to hold its first virtual meeting on June 29, 2021.

For more information

Further information about the Task Group can be found on the newly created webpage.

For more information, please contact Amy Vranchidis, Office of the Registrar at avranchidis@ocswssw.org.