Equity and Inclusion Data

On September 9, 2022, College Council passed a motion to approve in principle an Equity and Inclusion Data Policy to collect race-based and other demographic data from members on a voluntary basis. It is anticipated this initiative will be launched in the 2024 renewal season, which will begin in late November 2023.

The College recognizes that advancing diversity, equity and inclusion and addressing discrimination are important parts of its public protection mandate. This initiative is guided by the constitutional and legal principles of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Ontario Human Rights Code (the “Code”), Ontario’s Anti-Racism Act, the Canadian Institute for Health Information, as well as the calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, especially the call to collect data so that progress towards Reconciliation can be effectively measured.

The Equity and Inclusion Questions will be taken from existing validated data sources (where such data sources exist), for example the Canadian Census and the Anti-Racism Data Standards. This will allow for the data collected by the College to be accurately measured and compared with the broader Ontario public.

We acknowledge that the data will not provide a complete or perfect picture of the demographics of all social workers and social service workers, since members can choose whether or not to answer the Equity and Inclusion questions – it is simply a starting point.

The College is currently undertaking consultations with key stakeholders on the Equity and Inclusion initiative and wording of the Equity and Inclusion Questions. Stay tuned as members will have an opportunity to provide feedback in early 2023.

Updates on the implementation plan will be posted on this webpage as they become available. Please contact the Communications Department at communications@ocswssw.org for inquiries related to the Equity and Inclusion Data initiative.

Click on the sections below for more information on the Equity and Inclusion Data initiative.

Purpose

The Equity and Inclusion Data initiative is based on the fundamental principle that only what is measured can be effectively understood and improved. The initiative was developed to help identify and monitor systemic racism and discrimination within the professions of social work and social service work.

The collection of this data will:

  • Provide insight into the degree to which the diversity of the Ontario public is reflected in College membership.
  • Highlight any disparities and systemic barriers which will support evidence-based decision-making.
  • Provide a baseline measurement of the demographics of Ontario social workers and social service workers.
  • Identify and monitor systemic racism and discrimination for the purpose of advancing and promoting equity.

Authority and responsibility to collect data

As the provincial regulator of social workers and social service workers, the College is the only organization that is in the position to collect demographic data on Ontario social workers and social service workers. As such, we believe it is our social responsibility to collect this data.

Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, the College is legally authorized and has a legal responsibility to collect this data. The Code allows for the collection and analysis of demographic data, as long as the data is collected for purposes consistent with the Code, such as to monitor discrimination, identify and remove systemic barriers, address historical disadvantage and promote equity. Under the Code, an organization that chooses not to collect data in situations where data collection is allowed may not be able to argue that it did not discriminate under the Code.

Method and procedures

Once the initiative is launched, members will be asked to provide sociodemographic data on a voluntary basis when they renew their membership each year.

  • The Equity and Inclusion Questions will be completely voluntary; members who choose not to answer any of these questions will still be able to complete the renewal process.
  • Members can choose to answer some, all or none of the questions – they will be able to skip any questions that they do not want to answer.
  • No program, service or benefit will be withheld if members do not answer the questions.
  • Data will be stored in a secure system and access to the data will be limited to a small number of College staff.
  • Data provided by each member will be kept confidential.
  • Members can withdraw their consent and request that the College delete or stop using their information at any time.

Once collected, the College will analyze and report on the data.

  • The data will be reported on only in the aggregate – members will not be able to be identified by the data they choose to submit.
  • Data reporting will not perpetuate stereotypes of specific groups.

How the data will be used

As a starting point, our intention is to use the data to obtain a benchmark of the demographics of College members, and provide insight into the degree to which the diversity of the Ontario public is reflected in College membership. This will highlight gaps and disparities between our membership and the Ontario public.

Once we have this benchmark, we can take the data further to address systemic barriers and inform equity initiatives to better serve the Ontario public.

We must work within the parameters of our role as a provincial regulator in addressing systemic barriers. Within our role as a regulator, we can:

  • Develop practice supports and programs that will assist members in better serving communities. This could include resources such as cultural competency and cultural humility training.
  • Expand our government relations efforts to include recommendations that will promote equity at the educational level – for example, we could highlight the need for the government to consider offering additional scholarships and financial supports for individuals from communities that are underrepresented in the professions of social work and social service work.

While solutions may not always lie within our regulatory role, by collecting, analyzing and reporting on the data, we will have the opportunity to engage, partner and collaborate with other organizations who can advocate for changes that are beyond our role. We can:

  • Partner with organizations, such as the Ontario Association of Social Workers and the Ontario Social Service Worker Association who have the capability to advocate for more diverse representation within the professions.
  • Collaborate with employers to assist them in finding ways to identify strategies around better serving their communities, as well as addressing the disparities within their organizations.
  • Collaborate with educators to assist them in finding ways to identify strategies to attract students from diverse backgrounds and lived experiences.

How the data will not be used

The privacy of our members is incredibly important. In addition to keeping the data in a secure system, we will never:

  • Use or report the data in any way that could identify an individual member.
  • Use the data for purposes that will impact, harm or discriminate against a member. For example, the data will never be used in any complaints or discipline processes, or be checked against a member’s safe practice registration requirement.
  • Use or report the data to perpetuate stereotypes of specific groups.

Development and engagement

The College worked with Uppala Chandrasekera, MSW, RSW, who was pivotal in the early development of this initiative. Uppala is the Director of Public Health at Toronto Public Health. She has developed and led the creation of equity and inclusion policies at other organizations such as the Toronto Police Services Board, Mount Sinai Hospital and the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

We are currently undertaking consultations with key stakeholders including the following organizations:

  • The Anti-Racism Directorate of Ontario
  • The Ontario Human Rights Commission
  • The Native Canadian Centre of Toronto
  • CAMH
  • The 519
  • The Alliance for Healthier Communities

This list, while not exhaustive, provides examples of the types of key stakeholders we are engaging with in order to further develop the initiative.

College members will have the opportunity to provide their feedback in early 2023.

Related FAQs
  • The Equity and Inclusion Data initiative is based on the fundamental principle that only what is measured can be effectively understood and improved. The initiative was developed to help identify and monitor systemic racism and discrimination within the professions of social work and social service work.

    The collection of this data will:

    • Provide insight into the degree to which the diversity of the Ontario public is reflected in College membership.
    • Highlight any disparities and systemic barriers which will support evidence-based decision-making.
    • Provide a baseline measurement of the demographics of Ontario social workers and social service workers.
    • Identify and monitor systemic racism and discrimination for the purpose of advancing and promoting equity.
  • Yes. Members will be invited to provide their feedback in early 2023. More information on how to participate will be sent out via an eBulletin at that time.

  • When a member renews their membership, they will be asked if they are willing to answer sociodemographic questions. This will happen each year during the renewal season.

  • No. Members will be asked if to provide race-based and other demographic data on a voluntary basis. Members may also withdraw their consent and request that the College delete or stop using their personal information at any time. Members can choose to answer some, all or none of the questions – they will be able to skip any questions that they do not want to answer. No program, service or benefit will be withheld because a member chooses not to provide the personal information requested.

  • Yes. Members who choose not to answer any of these questions will still be able to complete the renewal process.

  • Yes, members can withdraw their consent and request that the College delete or stop using their information at any time.

  • Yes, the equity and inclusion data provided by members will be kept confidential. The data will be kept in a secure system, and access to the information will be restricted to a small number of College staff who require access for the purpose of reporting aggregate information and analyzing trends.

    The data will be reported on only in the aggregate – members will not be able to be identified by the data they choose to submit.

  • As a starting point, our intention is to use the data to obtain a benchmark of the demographics of College members, and provide insight into the degree to which the diversity of the Ontario public is reflected in College membership. This will highlight gaps and disparities between our membership and the Ontario public.

    Once we have this benchmark, we can take the data further to address systemic barriers and inform equity initiatives to better serve the Ontario public.

    We must work within the parameters of our role as a provincial regulator in addressing systemic barriers. Within our role as a regulator, we can:

    • Develop practice supports and programs that will assist members in better serving communities. This could include resources such as cultural competency and cultural humility training.
    • Expand our government relations efforts to include recommendations that will promote equity at the educational level – for example, we could highlight the need for the government to consider offering additional scholarships and financial supports for individuals from communities that are underrepresented in the professions of social work and social service work.
  • The data will not be used to identify a member in any way, or for purposes that will impact, harm or discriminate against a member. The data will never be used in any complaints or discipline processes, or be checked against a member’s safe practice registration requirement.

  • While the College is not mandated to follow the data standards set out by the Anti-Racism Act (ARA), the general principles of the ARA have helped guide the creation of the policy which the College will be following.

    The ARA data standards provide a framework for the Ontario government to identify and eliminate systemic racism and advance racial equity in the province. More information on the Anti-Racism Data Standards as set out in the ARA can be found on their website.

  • This initiative is guided by the constitutional and legal principles of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Ontario Human Rights Code (the “Code”), Ontario’s Anti-Racism Act, the Canadian Institute for Health Information, as well as the calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, especially the call to collect data so that progress towards Reconciliation can be effectively measured.