As noted in its recent announcement, effective March 21, 2022, the Ontario government is making changes to masking mandates – masks will no longer be required, except for public transit, health care settings, long-term care homes and congregate care settings.
In light of this recent announcement, the College advises social workers and social service workers to review the following:
In making decisions about their practice, members should first determine how the changes to masking mandates apply to their workplace and speak to their manager or supervisor if they need assistance in determining if their workplace is a health care, long-term care or congregate care setting where masks are still required.
Clients may have strong views on masking, which can lead to difficult conversations. Whenever possible, members are encouraged to speak to clients about masking before in-person client interactions and to apply their professional judgment as to how to proceed with providing services. If clients are unable to mask, members may wish to consider providing services via electronic means.
The College recommends that members who intend to see clients in person conduct client screening and monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms beforehand and avoid practising if they are feeling ill.
It is anticipated that all masking mandates will be removed in the coming months. The College anticipates that when this happens, some members may wish to remain masked and/or request that their clients wear a mask, and that some clients will prefer to remain masked and/or will want their social worker or social service worker to wear a mask. Members should use a client-centered approach and mask if they wish and/or at the client’s request. If possible, members should communicate their masking preferences to their clients before appointments or other in-person client interactions.
Members are encouraged to use the ETHICS-A: Ethical Decision-Making Tool to assist them in applying their professional judgment to this issue.
Members should also ensure they are familiar with previous College communications regarding:
- safety and infection control measures;
- considerations for members regarding in-person practice;
- considerations for members in private practice;
- considerations for virtual services;
- FAQs on cross-jurisdictional practice; and
- asking for proof of vaccination status.
Social workers and social service workers should continue to visit the College’s centralized COVID-19 webpage to access practice support and eBulletins which have been sent to College members and other stakeholders throughout the pandemic. A list of frequently asked questions is also accessible on this webpage.
The College will continue to provide recommendations that are intended to protect the health and well-being of both members and the Ontario public.
Thank you for your dedication and service. Keep well.
Lise Betteridge, MSW, RSW
Registrar and CEO