The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (the College) is the regulatory body for social workers and social service workers in Ontario. The College was created when the province of Ontario fully proclaimed the Social Work and Social Service Work Act, 1998 on August 15, 2000. Accountable to the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, the College currently regulates over 20,000 social workers and social service workers across the province. Its ongoing mandate is to serve and protect the public from unqualified, incompetent and unfit practitioners.
In Ontario, only members of the College can use the protected titles “social worker”, “social service worker”, “registered social worker” and/or “registered social service worker”. College membership is also required if a person represents or holds out expressly or by implication that they are a social worker, a social service worker, a registered social worker and/or a registered social service worker.
The College serves and protects the public by:
- Setting entry-to-practice requirements to ensure that only those with specialized educational qualifications are eligible for registration.
- Setting, maintaining and ensuring that all members follow the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.
- Maintaining a Public Register of registered social workers (RSWs) and registered social service workers (RSSWs) in Ontario.
- Requiring members to engage in ongoing learning through the Continuing Competence Program (CCP).
- Maintaining rigorous complaints and discipline processes.
Regulation of a profession defines the practice of the profession and describes the boundaries within which it operates, including the requirements and qualifications to practise the profession.
The primary mandate of any regulatory college is to protect the public interest from unqualified, incompetent or unfit practitioners through rigorous complaints and discipline processes.
Regulation brings credibility to the profession. Practitioners of a regulated profession are subject to a code of ethics and standards of practice, and complete the Continuing Competence Program (CCP) annually.
Self-regulation allows a profession to act as an agent of the government in regulating its members because the government acknowledges that the profession has the special knowledge required to set standards and judge the conduct of its members through peer review.
Self-regulation of a profession also provides public transparency as all College members are listed on an online register, which lists their registration status, discipline history (if any), restrictions on their practice (if any) and employer contact information.
How is the College Administered?
The Council is a 21-member governing body and board of directors that manages and administers College affairs. The Council is composed of:
- Seven social workers
- Seven social service workers
- Seven persons appointed by the Ontario government
The Registrar and CEO is hired by, and reports to, the Council. The Registrar and CEO hires staff to fulfill the objects of the College as set out in the legislation.