In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, all in-person hearings at the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers have been suspended until further notice. Please refer to the College’s Committee Direction for Hearings During COVID-19 regarding Discipline and Fitness to Practise Committee hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you would like to attend a discipline hearing via teleconference, please contact the Hearings Office by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that the College reserves the right to limit the number of participants.
As part of its duty to serve and protect the public interest, the College is required to have a Discipline Committee.
This page provides a brief overview of the College’s discipline process. Although every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate and current, it is not intended to be an exhaustive summary. In the event of any discrepancy between this web page and the Act, regulations and the relevant College bylaws, the latter will prevail.
For comprehensive information on the discipline process and procedures of the Discipline Committee, please review Part III of the Social Work and Social Service Work Act.
What is the Discipline Committee?
The Discipline Committee is the committee responsible for hearing and determining allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence. The Discipline Committee is composed of experienced social workers and social service workers as well as members of the public. A referral to the Discipline Committee for a discipline hearing is reserved for the most serious allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence.
What is a discipline hearing?
A discipline hearing is a formal process similar to a court, where a panel of the Discipline Committee hears and considers evidence presented by the College and the member who is the subject of the discipline hearing, before making a decision based on that evidence. When a matter is referred to the Discipline Committee for a hearing, a College lawyer will be appointed to prosecute the case on behalf of the College. The member in question may be represented by a lawyer. The parties to the hearing are the College and the College member who has been referred to the Discipline Committee.
Procedure on hearings
Generally, discipline hearings are open to the public. However, the Discipline Committee may order that the hearing in a particular case be closed if it is satisfied that:
- matters involving public security may be disclosed;
- financial or personal or other matters may be disclosed at the hearing of such a nature that the desirability of avoiding public disclosure of them in the interest of any person affect or in the public interest outweighs the desirability of adhering to the principle that hearings be open to the public;
- a person involved in a civil or criminal proceeding may be prejudiced; or
- the safety of a person may be jeopardized.
For more information, please read the Rules of Procedure of the Discipline Committee.
Powers of the Discipline Committee
If a hearing results in a finding of professional misconduct or incompetence, the Discipline Committee can order a range of penalties, including:
- a reprimand;
- restrictions on the member’s registration, called “terms, conditions or limitations”;
- imposing a fine; or
- suspending or revoking the member’s Certificate of Registration.
Although it is not a part of the penalty, should there be a finding of professional misconduct or incompetence, a Panel of the Discipline Committee can order that the member reimburse the College for part of its costs of the investigation, its legal costs and hearing costs.
For more information about the College’s discipline process, please refer to the following resources: