Co-navigating change and uncertainty with our communities

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C NNECTIONS Spring 2020 | Volume 3, Issue 1



Co-navigating change and uncertainty with our communities

SAVE THE DATE 2021 Conference & Annual General Meeting FRIDAY MAY 14 & SATURDAY MAY 15, 2021

Mark your calendar for two days of learning, connection and growth with members of the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers. This will be an opportunity for social workers and other interested individuals to meet, collaborate, plan and discover. Join us as we share new ways to move forward toward collective mental well-being in Nova Scotia. We are navigating uncharted waters, together. Questions? Contact Annemieke Vink at



Spring 2020 | Volume 3, Issue 1

Published three times a year by the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers 1888 Brunswick Street, Suite 700 Halifax, NS B3J 3J8

CREATIVE DIRECTION & DESIGN: Brittany Pickrem, Branding & Design EDITORIAL COMMITTEE: Harold Beals (Associate, Retired) Jodi Butler (RSW)

Phone: 902.429.7799 Fax: 902.429.7650

Rebecca Faria (College Staff) Bessie Harris (Associate, Retired) Shalyse Sangster (SWC)


Alec Stratford (RSW, College Staff) Linda Turner (RSW)

Connection is © Copyright 2020 by

Annemieke Vink (RSW, College Staff)

the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers, and also reserves copyright for all articles. Reproduction without written permission from the publisher is not allowed.

ADVERTISING IN CONNECTION: To advertise please contact the College’s Communication Coordinator Rebecca Faria at

Next issue: Fall 2020 See advertising rates at CONNECT WITH THE COLLEGE: @NSCSW

Spring 2020 | Connection 3


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TABLE OF CONTENTS Volume 3, Issue 1


Co-navigating Change and Uncertainty


The Voice of Social Work




Leading Through Empathy and Example


Independent, but Connected in our Practice







Thinking Outside the Box

Speaking up for Children, Families and Workers







Mental Health has a Social Context

A Vision for Nova Scotia’s Future

Spotlight on our Membership

Spring 2020 | Connection 5

Co-navigating Change and Uncertainty with Our Communities

Take a moment. Take a breath, and feel your feet underneath you. Feel the breath flowing in and out of your body, and ground yourself through the radiating of love, compassion and empathy that still exists and is all around us during one the darkest periods in Nova Scotia history. That love, compassion and empathy that surrounds us is being generated each and every day through you. It is brought to life in the ways that social workers support vulnerable Nova Scotians who went into this pandemic facing economic, health and social inequities, and it is deeply meaningful to all Nova Scotians who are grieving the senseless violence that occurred on April 18 and 19. What social workers do matters, and it makes a difference. Upon reflection of the year behind us, all social workers should feel incredibly proud of their contributions and the impact they have had on Nova Scotia. As a profession, we are growing. In 2016 we had 1824 members, and this year we have 2154; that is an 18 per cent increase over four years. We are the third largest regulated health profession in Nova Scotia. This growth can be attributed to the empathy, skills and integrity that social workers bring to their work each day. It can also be attributed to the complex needs of Nova Scotians as we increasingly become a more unequal society, which has continued to compound the complex social inequities that exist. The Nova Scotia College of Social Workers worked hard and diligently throughout 2019 to lead and support the profession. Throughout this issue of Connection, you will read about the work of our 6 dedicated staff and our close to 100 volunteers who have continued to achieve the College’s mandate and action our 5-year strategic plan.

Alec Stratford, MSW, RSW Registrar/Executive Director

You will read about our goals to regulate the profession by ensuring the highest standards of professional and ethical social work practice for the people of Nova Scotia. This will include highlights of our professional conduct program and the steps we’ve taken to enhance the integrity of decisions being made by the Complaints Committee ensuring duty to fairness, working to ensure that participatory rights are upheld, and that decisions made are grounded in sound reasons. You will read about how we have brought to life a new and improved Candidacy Mentorship Program that has streamlined the process through a digital database for much more effective administration, and the launch of the mentor training to help build the capacity of our mentors. Finally, you will read about the work of the Private Practice Committee and their work to strengthen clinical social work practice. Social workers are strong advocates, and the College continues to be a recognized leader in advocacy and social justice working to protect Nova Scotians. 2019 saw us continue to work with our community partners to bring a strong and active progressive voice into the public discourse.

6 Connection | Fall 2019




We brought professional development directly to social DARTMOUTH




Our projects have continued to see us lead the creation and launch of an anti-poverty coalition, the Nova Scotia Action Coalition for Community Well-Being; this group is pushing to change the narrative on poverty, and advocates for structural change to enhance our community well-being. The Social Policy Committee continued to work with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives to develop a social policy framework, which lays out what is required for a transformative social policy agenda in Nova Scotia. The framework report documents how income inequality results in political, economic and social instability. It demonstrates how best to tackle inequality and strengthen the social bond, which is essential to address the climate crisis and our future well-being.

workers in communities across the province in 2019

We will share the work of the Editorial Committee and their dedication to building a professional magazine sharing stories of how the profession impacts the lives of Nova Scotians. Connection has been a valuable addition to promote the profession, and to achieve our goal of Nova Scotians valuing social work knowledge, experience and training. You will also read about the incredible work of the Professional Development Committee who have been working to build the College into a centre for social work resources and professional development. In 2019 we offered over 18 professional development events across Nova Scotia including a conference; this coupled with the work of the CASW to deliver webinars meant that 2019 was the first year that members could achieve all of their professional development hours through the College. Finally, we will update you on the College’s financial plan towards our goal of being responsible, accountable and transparent. We continue to see financial pressures in the area of professional conduct; this is due to increased complaints. However, we continue to direct and earmark resources to continue to be able to build out resources for professional development and advocacy.

Our Social Justice Committee continues to work with the Dalhousie School of Social Work to launch our upcoming mental health advocacy paper which will aim to challenge the dominant medical model within our mental health systems and reposition social work to lead the delivery of family and client centred approaches.

I want to thank all of the staff and volunteers at the College for their incredible efforts to support the profession of social work in Nova Scotia. In particular, I want to thank Lynn Brogan for stepping in as Acting ED/R for 2019 so that I could take parental leave and form important attachments with my daughter.

You will read about the work of the Child Welfare Advisory Committee, a networked group of stakeholders who believe we can and must change the current political structures to enable social workers in child protection to lead systems change to protect vulnerable children and youth.

As we continue to work through this tumultuous year, remember to stay connected. Connect with people in both your personal and work lives, through phone calls, virtual meetings, and writing. Know that you are not alone. You have a professional community that is cheering you on, and that is here.

Spring 2020 | Connection 7

The Voice of Social Work

Rutger Bregman, a Dutch journalist and historian, told the World Economic Forum in January that we cannot possibly talk about inequality unless we are talking about taxes. His now viral quote, “It feels like I’m at a firefighters’ conference and

As part of our work towards the strategic goals of our College, we continue to be active in public discourse about issues that matter. We advocate for policy changes that improve social conditions, challenge injustice, and value diversity in Nova Scotia.

no one’s allowed to speak about water,” rings true

Here’s a small sample of what we were up to in 2019

services in Nova Scotia without talking about

in our province, too, as the delivery of crucial public services continues to be compromised by underspending on public services. We cannot possibly talk about fixing public progressive taxes and increased spending. We must challenge the dogma that lowering taxes is good for everyone, and we must radically change the course of social spending.

Op-ed: ‘Competitive” taxation threatens child welfare in Nova Scotia Alec Stratford, Chronicle Herald March 4, 2019

The Nova Scotia College of Social Workers believes that mental wellness is a lifelong journey fostered by healthy communities, and that diagnostic and treatment services must be tailored to unique client and family experiences. Healthy communities, in the College’s view, are possible only when people have access to stable employment, adequate incomes, affordable, quality housing and nutritious food, and when services are shaped by authentic community consultation and collaboration. All of this requires investment. Part of that investment involves putting individuals, families and communities at the heart of decision-making. It also means, in Nova Scotia, increasing spending on mental health and addictions to 10 per cent of the Health and Wellness budget.

Op-ed: Mental health solutions: the bigger picture matters Jim Morton October 23, 2019

“If we’re going to truly create a balanced budget and build a strong foundation for our province, we must ensure that children and youth receive the services they need,” says [Alec Stratford]. “At minimum, the government has missed an opportunity to create a Child and Youth Advocate office. This would build assurance for children and youth that their stories and voices would be heard, and their rights would be acknowledged, as part of Nova Scotia’s decision-making process on the systems, services and programs that affect them most.”

Media release: Budget balances the books by increasing social debt, leaves behind vulnerable children and youth in Nova Scotia March 27, 2019

[Alec Stratford] said Monday that childwelfare social workers in particular are hampered by a lack of administrative support and community resources for their clients.

The Nova Scotia College of Social Workers views the

He said the stress on child welfare also has

comments presented by the Department of Community

spillover effects to areas such as foster

Services as a missed opportunity to inform elected

care, education and mental health.

officials of not only the positive strides being made by

… “This isn’t just about child welfare, this

their department, but also of what is not going well.

is about the broad social services that

Information is power, and it is critical to equip our

support social welfare such as income

elected officials with the ability to make informed

assistance, mental health and addiction

decisions that can make a difference in the lives

and housing. All of those services need

of Nova Scotians.

many more resources to be able to deal with the complexity of needs that

The fact remains that Nova Scotia’s child welfare services are underfunded and many children and youth in this system

families are facing.”

are not doing well. We need to do something about that.

Nova Scotia campaign aims to

Op-ed: Nova Scotia’s child welfare services

bolster child-welfare system

are in urgent need of more funding

Keith Doucette, Canadian Press

Lynn Brogan, Star Halifax

January 21, 2019

September 11, 2019

We know that there is an over-representation of Black and Indigenous children in care, due to intergenerational trauma and poverty caused by centuries of structural, systemic racism. Such policies only increase the depth of poverty faced by these families, and entrench this legacy of harm. As we prepare to elect our federal leaders, this is a critical time to raise these issues and garner their attention and support for a new path forward that is grounded in equity and fairness. We aspire to live in a country where our leaders not only speak of children as being our future, they believe it, and reflect these beliefs in their platform commitments and the policies they create.

Blog post: Child benefit policy deepens poverty for the most vulnerable Lynn Brogan October 18, 2019

Spring 2020 | Connection 9


10 Connection | Fall 2019

New Private Practitioners, Registered Social Workers, and Social Worker Candidates Approved by Board of Examiners January - March 2020




Geoffrine Boudreau-Arsenault Dominic Boyd Deana Bryan Erin Cavicchi Janelle Comeau Jillian Dollimont Mary Kendra Gottschall Morgan Moore Deanne Neufeld Sarah Oulton Breagh Potter

Jessica Ali Lilian Bacon Taylor Barei Meagan Butler Denis Dubé Kevin Dugas Pretty Jena Erin McDonald Jennifer Murray- Stokes Kayla O’Hearn Carrie Paul Melissa Puddicombe Rebecca Shaw Danica Snow Ruby White

Kaylie-Anne Adamski Blake Archibald Jalen Borden Matthew Boudreau Sarah Brown Michelle Chisholm Orelia Daye Melissa Fanning Lana Hammond Jerrica Jackson Swantje Jahn Nicole Joycey Brandon Julien Lezlee Lindzon Gordon Littke Kiana MacDonald

Cailin MacQuarrie Sarah McCrory Erin McDonald Kathryn McNeil Christine Merrigan Mary Katy Michael Carol-Ann Parsons Nicole Slaunwhite Courtney Smith Jenna Snelgrove Emily Stewart Aymar Taylor Sarah Tremblay Ainslee Umlah Caitlyn Williams Cooper Amie Windle

Join the conversation


Spring 2020 | Connection 11


Connection magazine manifests the College’s desire to highlight social workers as leaders who provide essential services to support Nova Scotians lead healthier and happier lives. Connection illustrates the realities and challenges that social workers face, promotes the profession’s passionate work and brings stories from our community to life. The magazine you are reading reflects the evolution of our organization from its beginning as an association almost 60 years ago to a present-day College which continues to regulate the profession while working in solidarity with Nova Scotians to advocate for improvement to social policies and programs. This full-colour digital magazine is distributed to social workers, government, community & advocacy groups and more, and is produced three times during a calendar year in the fall, winter & spring. We welcome all submissions as they relate to the social work profession. We invite your original articles on: • New developments in any area of social work; • Findings from research that relates to the practice of social work or social justice; and • Opinion pieces on social justice and social work-related issues.

We have produced editorial guidelines for authors who wish to publish in the magazine and have established six subject areas and general outlines for each to assist contributors when deciding to write an article. The topics include Ethics in Action; Social Justice; Private Practice; Diverse Communities; Research; and Social Worker Spotlight (to celebrate the oftenuntold stories of social workers doing great things). We are fortunate to have a very qualified staff who ensure that each issue is carefully organized and crafted to fully represent our profession and ensure that we have quality articles that represent social work as one of the leading professions in the country. Hats off to: Annemieke Vink, Professional Private Practice Consultant; Rebecca Faria, Communication Coordinator; and Alec Stratford, Executive Director/Registrar. Over the next year the committee will be looking for new committee members to join the ongoing development of the magazine, and select stories and themes to pursue. We look forward to publishing your book reviews; university faculty and student research; social work perspectives from the Acadian, African Nova Scotian and Indigenous communities; military social work stories, and more.

COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Harold Beals, (Chair), Lynn Brogan (staff), Judy Butler, Rebecca Faria (staff), Bessie Harris, Shalyse Sangster, Alec Stratford (staff), Linda Turner, Annemieke Vink (staff).

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INDEPENDENT, BUT CONNECTED IN OUR PRACTICE A report from the Private Practice Committee

The Private Practice committee spent the majority of 2019 addressing issues with the NSCSW bylaws regarding the registration of private practitioners. Social work private practitioners and their clients have also continued to face barriers in ensuring coverage of social work services through insurance companies. Parallel to these concerns, members working through the public mental health systems have expressed distress about the current direction of mental health care in Nova Scotia and the role of social work within this system.

PRIVATE PRACTICE BYLAWS An agenda for our committee was defined by a motion carried by the membership at the 2018 AGM:

14 Connection | Spring 2020

“the membership directs the College’s Private Practice Committee to continue further considerations for this by-law change to section 32(1)b outlining the private practice requirements. As part of deliberations, the committee will bring a specific recommendation with detailed rationale to members at the next AGM in 2019.”

The committee spent much of its time writing a discussion paper and developing two core recommendations to NSCSW members: that we deregulate private practice, and create a voluntary clinical registration category. These recommendations and their rationales were debated and discussed at the 2019 AGM, with the general feeling expressed was that a clinical registry should be explored more. Council has agreed and once the Private Practice Committee has completed its core objectives a new committee will be formed to further explore the issue.

also set to assist third�party payers (i.e insurers, government, and private business) so they can make informed decisions when adjusting their reimbursement rates for their services.

ADVOCACY Finally, after the 2019 AGM, the committee turned its attention to the design of an advocacy strategy for greater access to mental health services for Nova Scotians through access to Private Practitioners. The campaign which we hope to launch


this summer will Identify employers, unions and organizations who currently do not cover social workers in their insurance

The committee also completed a scan of the recommended rates for private practitioners for various professions. We concluded that the recommended fee for private practice masters-level and PhD social workers registered with the College would be a minimum rate of $160.00 per session.

plan. We will develop social media content and a letter writing

Individual practitioners will always retain the autonomy to set and adjust their fees. The recommended rate is provided as a guideline to inform clients of what they can expect to pay for social work services in a private practice setting. This rate is

Nelda Armour, Lynn Brogan (staff), Tonya Grant, Jeff

campaign, as well as a presentation to deliver to targeted groups.

COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Karabanow, Jennifer Morris (chair), April Munro-Wood, Pam Roberts, Denise Robichaud, Alec Stratford (staff), Heidi Sturgeon, Beth Toomey, Jennifer Van Kessel, Annemieke Vink.

Spring 2020 | Connection 15


When I joined the Professional Development Committee in July 2017 I embraced the College’s spirit of providing quality and innovative learning opportunities for the membership. In May 2019 the membership embraced this journey engaging in a two day conference, Keys to Resilience, Healing and Trauma Informed Social Work Practice. This conference was indeed a labour of love and a joy to host. So many enthusiastic, knowledgeable and creative speakers who imparted upon us their years of experience, insights and recommendations.

In the later part of 2019 the committee was once again hard at work preparing for the planned May 2020 conference, Mental Health, Today & Tomorrow, and confirming and scheduling further events for our 2020 programming. Then COVID-19 came upon the world. As the world, our country and our province responds to COVID-19, our committee has not paused its work. The 2020 conference, Mental Health, Today & Tomorrow, and all

Looking back, my fondest memories of this

scheduled opportunities that were to be hosted in communities

conference involved the sea of faces before me.

we are reviewing the content of these presentations, and will

So much diversity, experience and passion all in one room waiting to listen and learn. I will admit

across the province have been cancelled, for now. However, continue to generate ideas for how this information can be shared with the members of our College.

I took great pleasure introducing the committee

Our committee is comprised of a dedicated number of

members who worked so hard in bringing this

to the table for one hour, via teleconference, every second

event to the membership.

members who bring their passion, knowledge and energy Tuesday between September and June. In September we will once again open this committee to new members. If you are passionate about the quality of educational experiences our

In addition to conference planning, the committee’s role in 2019 included presenting learning opportunities for College members in the form of workshops and presentations across the province.We designed a program that covered topics such as social work ethics, trauma informed practice, cultivating compassion, professional identity and working with First Nations. These sessions were designed and hosted as inperson events.

16 Connection | Spring 2020

membership receives, please join us.

COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Craig Besaw, Brandy Gryshik, Crystal Hill, Helen Luedee, Claire Sampson-MacDonald, Joanne Sulman, April Munro-Wood (Chair), Annemieke Vink (Staff)

Spring 2020 | Connection 17


Being involved with the Child Welfare Advisory Committee of the college has been a highlight of my year.

The Child Welfare Advisory Committee had a very busy year once we came together in 2019, meeting frequently to maintain the momentum begun in 2018.

We’re often unable to directly address the very difficult problems faced by our clients. And of course, conflicted issues, roles and confidentiality make it even harder to speak out in child welfare matters. So the support received from our College in setting up this committee to address issues a number of us had raised in late 2018 was a terrific support and collaboration. The committee has brought together frontline child protection workers, other DCS staff, private therapists, Association of Black Social Workers representation, and union activists, among others. The College staff were invaluable in their initiatives to make a way for people to stay involved.

18 Connection | Spring 2020

Under the leadership of Alec Stratford, and Lynn Brogan during Alec’s paternity leave, we continued our advocacy regarding serious child welfare issues in our province that affect client families, children and child welfare social workers.

In an important collaboration between the College and the NS Government Employees Union (NSGEU), our #ChildWelfareOnTheBrink public ad campaign was announced in a press conference on January 21. Both organizations called on the government to address the crisis in delivery of child protection services. In the spring, several of our meetings focused on supporting social work union members to continue efforts to address their grievances. In the fall, the NSGEU members’ initiative led to the establishment of a Labour Management Group to address working conditions for child protection staff across the province, including issues such as sick time, intense workload, and job dissatisfaction. In June, we held a two-day event with more than 50 attendees to examine child protection in Nova Scotia. We opened on a Friday evening with a panel discussion, with a group that included myself, fellow social workers Lynn Brogan, Crystal Hill, Alec Stratford and Robert Seymour Wright, and law professor Rollie Thompson. We discussed the issue from multiple perspectives: client experiences, legal implications, policy frameworks and cultural impact. The symposium on Saturday invited participants to break into groups to examine these issues in more depth, discussing strategies for ongoing change.

Later in June we co-hosted a guest speaker for another public event: Jane Kovarikova, founder of Child Welfare Political Action Committee. Jane’s talk, “The Kids Aren’t Alright,” described her personal experiences as a former child in care and built a case for a cultural shift towards evidence-based, client-centred policy making.

Throughout the summer, Lynn continued to keep the issues in the public eye with a series of published op-eds in the media reviewing ongoing policy and practice concerns.

The fall issue of Connection included an in-depth article, “Nova Scotia Child Welfare in Crisis,” which critically examined underlying principles to address the needed change in the delivery of child protection services. The committee looks forward to continuing our work and expanding our active membership, and has welcomed the participation of new members from NS Legal Aid. Please join us if you have the time.

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I’m drafting this report in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and its uncertainty. The emergency is colouring everything. An invisible and as-yet untreatable virus endangers us. In our efforts to protect ourselves though social distance, our lives have been shorn of routine; nothing is as it was. We are threatened by illness, by being on the front lines of essential services, by unemployment, by loss of income, and by inability to meet rent and mortgage costs. We have little clarity about what is coming next or how the crisis will end.

and addictions teams. As the College explored these issues, its focus coalesced around the significance of the social determinants of health, on the necessity of genuine consultation with communities about service needs, on the importance of funding that meets World Health Organization standards, and on the imperative of looking at mental health as a life-long journey that can only be understood within the context of community and clientfamily experience.

All of these threats strain our experience of well-being as individuals and families, ironically making our Social Justice Committee’s focus on achieving optimum mental health for Nova Scotians more important than ever.

I am deeply grateful for the participation of

During the past year, this committee’s continued attention has centred on concerns initially raised by social workers about an undervaluing of social work within mental health

20 Connection | Spring 2020

our committee members who inform and energize our work, and our staff advisor who provides professional leadership and valued support.

Last summer the College commissioned research to explore social work and mental health services in Nova Scotia. The research project was awarded to Dalhousie University School of Social Work professors, Dr. Catrina Brown, Dr. Nancy Ross, and Dr. Marjorie Johnstone. Their work has been unfolding throughout the year and a report on their investigation is expected later in 2020. The Social Justice Committee has been pleased to witness the progress of this initiative and looks forward to having additional evidence to inform the path forward.

emphasizes brief service, ‘biological psychiatry’ and cognitive interventions which focus on individual patients. Social workers understand the limitations of this narrow perspective and I am encouraged that our committee, and the College, are ready to promote a more progressive, contextual vision for mental health as we move forward.

In anticipation of the research report, the social justice committee began to identify potential community partners who may inform and participate in advocacy work on mental health.We know, as with COVID-19, achieving better mental health in Nova Scotia will require many allies pulling in the same direction.

been recognizing that we are all in this together and

Several opinion pieces, commenting on mental health from a social work perspective, were published in the provincial press and circulated to members and others via social media.

We’ve been learning, even as we manage our distance, that our survival requires cooperation, and we’ve been demonstrating that understanding as we applaud and serenade the social workers and health care workers and grocery store employees… all those who are risking themselves on the front lines for our welfare. It seems clear that a better, more egalitarian, less stressed future surely involves doubling-down on these values, which involves, of course, ensuring that people have access to income, housing, food, meaningful work, and to what is essential for sustaining wellness.

The committee was excited to plan and organize, Big Ideas: A Conversation About Mental Health, a public panel discussion to be delivered at the Halifax Central Library during National Social Work Month. That event, along with Mental Health Today and Tomorrow, the annual NSCSW conference for 2020, were cancelled due to the COVID-19 emergency. The Social Justice Committee is very appreciative of all of the efforts, by so many people, in the preparation of both these important gatherings and is hopeful that the mental health ideas they were intended to explore will find other venues for exploration in the future. As noted above, the NSCSW Social Justice Committee’s recent work had its origins in concerns about social work’s perceived value within mental health services. As someone who has invested a career in the field, I have continually returned to that question during the past year. There is no doubt we have a place. Social work was on the front lines of the revolutionary developments in community and inpatient mental health during the twentieth century. We know, as the central tenet of our profession, that human beings are social beings and can only be understood with in the context of family and community life.This knowledge is critical to multidisciplinary team deliberations, to service planning, and essential in the consulting rooms where clinical encounters unfold.That said, neoliberal, austerity-driven governments have, for the last forty years, discouraged an interest in social context and encouraged the evolution of a reductionistic medical model that

The COVID-19 pandemic may also be teaching us something about the value of social context. We’ve

using the powers of governments to make serious investments in the welfare of people.

The NSCSW Social Justice Committee is eager to play a leading role in advocating for such a future. As social workers, we know that meeting basic human needs is foundational for optimum mental health. And we are certain that asserting our social work values and knowledge within the world of mental health and addictions is critical to high quality service planning and delivery. Any lessons learned from COVID-19 are, however, unlikely to be enough. Many of us will be needed to lead the push for a better, more socially responsible future. As J.S. Woodsworth, one of our social work ancestors, put it about a century ago, “To this end, may we take our share of the world’s work and the world’s struggles.”

COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Harold Beals, Prasanna Kariyawansa , Janelle MacDonnell, Haley MacIntosh, Alexa MacLean, Megan McBride, Dermot Monaghan, Jim Morton (Chair), Juanita Paris, Cassie ShawBishop, Patricia Stephens-Brown, Maggie Stewart, Michelle Towill, Annemieke Vink (Staff), Valerie White.

Spring 2020 | Connection 21

22 Connection | Spring 2020

A VISION FOR NOVA SCOTIA’S FUTURE A report from the Social Policy Committee Throughout 2019 the Social Policy Committee worked with the Nova Scotia branch of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives to guide the development of a new social policy framework. The committee was delighted to work with lead author Tammy Findlay, who is an associate professor and chair in the political and Canadian studies department at Mount Saint Vincent University. Tammy’s research focuses on feminist intersectionality and public policy, social policy, child care policy, women’s representation and democratic governance. She is the author of several publications about gender, democracy and public policy, a research associate with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Nova Scotia, and a board member of the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women. The committee was also incredibly grateful to work with Christine Saulnier, the Nova Scotia Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. She has a doctorate in political science from York University, leads the living wage calculations for communities in Atlantic Canada, and has served as co-author of the annual child and family poverty report cards for Nova Scotia. She is a frequent media commentator on fiscal policy, minimum wage and a range of social policies, including child care and income assistance. The framework was launched in March of 2020 and shows through data and analysis that over the past three decades, we have seen increasing globalization, the rise of neoliberalism and unprecedented technological change affecting the labour market. Governments have enacted policies that have resulted in greater inequity, and a general retrenchment of the welfare state, either by explicit austerity measures or by non-decisions and lack of public investment in social infrastructure. These trends have combined to leave the most vulnerable Nova Scotians to carry the greatest burden of these policies. The framework offers blueprints for achieving goals for our province. It is a roadmap to improve quality of life through policy. Social policy frameworks are tools that guide complex decision-making, set future positive direction, and identify

important intersections that impact intended and unintended outcomes of policy. The Social Policy Committee also worked on advocacy strategy to ensure that framework was integrated and used by progressive communities across Nova Scotia. It is the goal of the NSCSW to use this framework to support advocacy efforts to promote health, prevent harm and proactively address government policy. The Social Policy Framework will be a living document that can serve as a guide to organize, mobilize and ensure all Nova Scotians have opportunities for wellbeing and fulfillment.

ADVOCACY STRATEGY GOAL Nova Scotians demonstrate an active political discourse utilizing the language and the ideas within the Social Policy Framework.

STRATEGIES 1. Launch framework in partnership with CCPA NS 2. Build campaign with community partners using framework to mobilize discourse 3. Build training for social workers and members of the public on how to use framework in daily work 4. Collaborate with Dalhousie School of Social Work to integrate framework into course work.

COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Patricia Auchnie, Andre Deszi, Cheryl Hebert, Laurette McGaughey, Alicia Nolan, Janet Pothier, Alec Stratford (Staff), Jennifer VanKessel.

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7% 7% 17% Social workers by region

52% Halifax 52% Cape Breton 17% Annapolis 7% North Shore 7% Colechester 6% South Shore 4% Fundy Shore 4% Cumberland 3%

24 Connection | Spring 2020

6% 4% 4%


New Applications in 2019:


Social workers by designation


New applications by country

Private Practitioners

1,242 Registered social workers


Social work candidates (active)

New applications by province



155 Associate

2,154 Total

Age of social workers




Gen X



Spring 2020 | Connection 25

Member Specialties Here’s a snapshot of practice specialties of Nova Scotia social workers Addiction Services

Adoption / Foster Care / Children in Care

Adult Protection

Military (Other Than Fam Resource Ctr)

School of Social Work

Transition House / Homeless Shelter

University / Community College

Family Service Agency / Family Resource

Hospital (Non-Mental Health)

Mental Health Services

Child Protection

Corrections / Justice

Seniors Centre

Employment / Income Assistance

2019 NSCSW

Annual Report

2019 | NSCSW Annual Report 27


28 NSCSW Annual Report | 2019


In Social Work Times


Standing Together


Professional Integrity


The Beacon In the Storm


Where Your Membership Fees Go


Our Budget


Auditor’s Report

& Accountability

Your Council Executive Officers:


Other Representatives:

President: Ezra Wexler


CASW Board Member: Debbie Reimer

Vice-President: Todd Leader Treasurer: Lynn Brogan Secretary: Laurie Ehler Member at Large: Catherine Kehoe To connect with the President of Council Email:

Northern: Crystal Hill, vacant Eastern: AndrĂŠa Shaheen, Karla Bond Central: Denise Robichaud, Donna LeMoine Western: Kate Matheson, Laura Rodriguez

Dalhousie University School of Social Work Faculty: Judy MacDonald Dalhousie University School of Social Work Student: Lauren Matheson Universite Sainte Anne Faculty: Veronique Brideau-Cormier Universite Sainte Anne Student:

Board of Examiners: Chair: Tonya Grant

Sophie Gallant Nova Scotia Association of Black Social Workers: Courtney Brown Indigenous Member: Holly Muese

2019 | NSCSW Annual Report 29

In social work times A message from the outgoing NSCSW Council President Challenging times. Unusual times. Exceptional times. Uncertain times. It strikes me that the pandemic has forced individuals, families, organizations, communities, companies and governments to confront, analyze and attempt to patch up the same inequities that social workers are all too familiar with in their work — pandemic or not. Social workers strive to ensure that families are safe in their homes, that patients’ rights are intact within institutions, that communities are empowered, that employers uphold equal opportunity, and that governments are aware of gaps in the systems and plans they roll out. Social workers are familiar with shifting playing fields designed to serve the majority, and

keep an eye out for the rights of the vulnerable and oppressed. Social workers are creative problem solvers, attentive mediators, passionate advocates and empathetic listeners. I would say that these times are social work times. The cause of the profession is being called upon in every corner of our society. Poverty, mental health, child welfare, and the needs of vulnerable older adults are on the forefront of our communal consciousness. Social work has been confronting these issues since inception and are now uniquely positioned to shed light on the source of those inequities, and to offer alternative strategies, policies, perspectives and solutions. When faced with a crisis, social workers rise to the occasion, and I am proud to say that in Nova Scotia we are doing just that.

I have heard from dozens of social workers about the adaptations they are undertaking to not just continue doing the important work they have always done, but to expand and sometimes re-vision that work to meet the emerging needs caused by the pandemic. While many Nova Scotians are home attempting to make the most of the extra time they have while not working or going to school, social workers are putting in extra hours ensuring that those who face food and housing insecurity, violence in the homes, health challenges from delayed medical interventions, or rising mental health concerns from the social isolation and increased anxiety, have the professional support they need to get through. I have served as the president of the College for the last four years and have been amazed and delighted as the strategic plan was first developed and now continues to be implemented. In so doing we have solidified our hybrid model, clearly demonstrating the harmony of having a strong voice in advocating for the needs of Nova Scotians with our regulatory purpose ensuring that social work is practiced in ways that uplift and empower Nova Scotians.

This year we have had great energy and development on several fronts that will serve the college, social workers and Nova Scotians well in the future. The expansion of our committees, and the passions of the volunteers involved seem to have no bounds. In particular I point towards the work of our mental health, child welfare, clinical practice, candidacy, editorial, and social policy committees. To all of the volunteers involved I offer thanks, and hope that you continue to find ways to work with the College in the future. Of course, each of those committees are supported by staff of the College, whose passions and attention to detail are the backbone of our success, and so I point towards their hard work and the never ending energy and leadership of our Executive Director and Registrar, Alec Stratford.

These are social work times, and as the outgoing president I am optimistic for the wellbeing of our province knowing that over two thousand social workers are out there working hard towards a collectively brighter future. Thank you,


2019 2018 | NSCSW Annual Report 31

Standing together A message from the outgoing Board of Examiners Chair

There have been lots of successes and challenges along the way, especially now in the midst of a worldwide pandemic and in our recovery from an unthinkable tragedy in our beautiful province.

As my six-year term comes to a close I want to express that it has been such a pleasure to have been involved in all of the innovative and exceptional work of our College. I would like to welcome the wonderful Joline Comeau as our new chair for the Board of Examiners and I would also like to wholeheartedly thank the NSCSW staff, committee members, volunteers, members and public members who have worked so hard over this past year to ensure that our practice holds a high degree of strength and integrity. As I reflect on all the outstanding social work practice across our province, I am grateful to be a part of our social work community and I have never been more proud to call myself a social worker. There have been lots of successes and challenges along the way, especially now in the midst of a worldwide pandemic and in our recovery from an unthinkable tragedy in our beautiful province. Social work has over a century of experience working with adversity, inequality, trauma and resiliency and now we

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face a long road ahead of restoration and restructuring. As the pandemic moved through our province the Board of Examiners noticed time and time again how social workers were stepping up and digging deep to provide support to others at the very same time they were facing their own work and life uncertainty. Child protection social workers continued to offer needed community visits, and health care social workers donned PPE to get the job done. Many social workers kept shelters and other community programs operating, and mental health social workers (both public and private) shifted in record speed to provide online therapy services. Many of our members, including students, were involved in organizing existing services in innovative ways, creating new services, conducting research, and consulting on response planning. The NSCSW advocated strongly for vulnerable Nova Scotians to have better services while emphasizing that the pandemic is amplifying the social, economic and health inequities that have been here harming people for decades. The College provided guidelines on social working in the context of a pandemic and worked hard to re-register retired social workers and remove barriers to work across provinces.

When the mass tragedy occurred, social workers worked tirelessly to offer support and hold spaces for people’s suffering and resiliency, in concert with dealing with their own shock and grief. Many reached out in creative ways offering webinars, social media posts, blogs, posts and their musical talents to provide comfort during such a heartbreaking time. Social workers were navigating unprecedented waters while still using a critical lens to look beyond the surface and raise awareness on the highly interdependent relationship between structural and direct violence. Together, we can continue to work in collaboration with our communities to enhance social connections, build on collective resiliencies and raise our voices even higher to advocate for long overdue revolutions in our social, economic and health policies. In 1917, on the day of the Halifax explosion, Jane Wisdom was the only trained social worker in Nova Scotia, and today we are 2154 members strong. By standing together and using our collective strengths in advocacy, relational work, critical policy analysis and community development, we will continue to make a difference. As we move forward through the next year it will be also be important to give ourselves the same care and

compassion we readily give to others. As social workers we already know how to push through, so in order to continue to do great social work it will also be essential to give ourselves permission to rest, recover, reset and heal with the rest of our community. In kindness and solidarity, Tonya Grant MSW, RSW NSCSW BOE/Chair

2019 BOARD OF EXAMINERS: Dennis Adams, Jaqi Allan, Lynn Cheek, Joline Comeau, Tonya Grant (chair), Jeff Karabanow, Jack Landreville, Angela Penny, Shireen Singer. Government Appointees: Justin Adams, Lisandra Naranjo

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Professional integrity & accountability BY JOLINE COMEAU, MSW, RSW, COMPLAINTS COMMITTEE CHAIR

The mandate of the College is to serve and protect public interest, preserve the integrity of the social work profession, and to maintain public confidence in the ability of the social work profession to regulate itself. The College achieves this mandate by regulating the practice of social work, in part, through its legislated power to address complaints involving allegations of professional misconduct, conduct unbecoming the profession, incompetency, and/or a breach of the Code of Ethics. The process of receiving, investigating, and resolving complaints is the ongoing work of the Complaints Committee which is a subcommittee of the Board of Examiners. The Complaints Committee is obligated to investigate every complaint made, which vary in complexity. Some are simple to resolve, while others have more complex concerns such as fitness-to-practice issues, confidentiality breaches, and professional boundaries violations.

The powers and duties associated with processing complaints is not assumed lightly, and the resources required to carry out these responsibilities effectively are considerable. It has been another busy year for the Complaints Committee. A total of 56 complaints were processed during 2019. The number of complaints received by the Complaints Committee remains high: between 2012 and 2016, an average of 16 complaints were received annually; in 2017 the College received 21 complaints; in 2018 we received 32; and in 2019, 28 new complaints were received. We had some staff changes in 2019, as we said farewell to both Sherry Battiste and Alex Nelson, and welcomed Valerie Shapiro and Ogochukwu Okechukwu.

2019 COMPLAINTS COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Joline Comeau (chair), Dennis Adams, Sherry Battiste (staff), Jack Landreville, Lisandra Naranjo (public appointed member), Alex Nelson (staff), Valerie Shapiro (staff).

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There were 28 complaints

1. Increased the number of

already in process when

qualified investigators

the year began, and 28 new complaints were officially received during 2019. Based on steps taken in 2018, the Complaints Committee was able to finalize 41 complaints in 2019. These

2. Created a stipend policy for the Complaints Committee 3. Ongoing training and support in right-touch regulation, which drew on the expertise of the College’s legal counsel.

steps were:

A look at 2019 Complaints Type

5 3 30 2

Breached the Code of Ethics Incompetence Professional Misconduct Conduct Unbecoming the Profession


32 4 0 5




3rd Party


25 11 4 1

Dismissed (no grounds) Letter of Counsel Reprimand with Consent Ongoing

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As I write this report, we are facing a global pandemic. COVID-19 is our generation’s crisis. While we are all facing this storm, I am cognisant that its impact differs from individual to individual, family to family, and community to community. It’s difficult to grasp the reality of it all, and the devastation it has left in its wake. As the fight against COVID-19 goes on we not only see the atrocities happening across the world and in our province, we also hear about and see so many acts of kindness and selflessness. The spirit and courage of Nova Scotians shine in times of crisis. The power of human connection is evident. During these strange and unprecedented times, I know there are social workers in this province who are leaving their families to go to work, risking everything to protect, care, and support others. We have a strong history as social workers of stepping up and leaning into storms no matter how big the challenge. Thank you for all you do, and for your dedication and compassion in the service of others.

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As social workers, we are intimately aware of not only how this virus has impacted our own life, we are keenly aware of its impact on vulnerable Nova Scotians. COVID-19 has further exposed the injustices and inequalities that exist across our country. While we are all cognisant of the financial and health care crisis that is occurring, the psychosocial impact on our citizens from the very young to the elderly will be felt for years to come. It is my hope that this pandemic provides an opportunity for reflection on our federal and provincial public policies that allows for the building of healthy, inclusive communities where no one is left behind. During this crisis while the College’s physical office is closed, staff are continuing to work remotely from home in effort to serve the public and support our members in any way they can. Alec and I have continued to regularly meet to ensure our finances are regularly monitored and bills are paid. From a financial perspective, the College is a member-driven organization whose revenue is generated through membership annual fees. These fees provide the foundation for all financial decisions that are made.

As social workers, we are intimately aware of not only how this virus has impacted our own life, we are keenly aware of its impact on vulnerable Nova Scotians.

In examining the year-end budget, the College achieved a balanced budget. In 2019, our revenue totalled $884,050 and our expenditures totalled $884,132. Our total assets as of December 31 were $1,452,059. We were able to achieve a balanced budget for two main reasons. Our membership numbers increased which positively impacted our revenue. Also, a tremendous amount of oversight and solid decision making occurred, which greatly helped to manage and contain our operational pressures. To ensure the College’s financial stability, we maintain and administer operational and discipline reserves. These reserves are accessed in the event of an unexpected shortfall or discipline matter. Currently our Operational Reserve Fund is within best practice guidelines of having an equivalent of 3-6 months of funding, to cover the costs of unforeseen expenses and any financial commitments. This operational reserve has a balance of $506,016. Our Discipline Reserve Fund is also within our policy guidelines, having a balance of $144,071. Reserve funds are separate accounts, and no funds from these accounts can be used without formal approval from Council.

Attending to the current complexities and pressures experienced by regulatory bodies across the country, coupled with the College’s transformational agenda and goal of making impactful change, has heightened the responsibilities and expectations of the College. As we enter the third year of our ambitious five-year strategic plan to create a vibrant, visible and connected social work community, the fact remains with increased demands and expectations the College will face both fiscal and human resource pressures. The College will need to examine these pressures, and identify future organizational and operational options to ensure the College’s regulatory mandate and association needs are met. On a closing note, I am so proud to serve as your treasurer, and do hope we will be able to come together soon. In the meantime, be safe, strong and kind to yourselves and one another.

Our total assets as of December 31, 2019, were $1,452,059.

The College is a member-driven organization. Our revenue is generated through annual membership fees, and our financial decisions are made on that basis. Any organization depends on the involvement and strength of its members. A thriving organization also requires the necessary funding to fulfill its mandate and realize its goals. In addition to fulfilling our mandated

Where your membership fees go

regulatory responsibilities that protect the public, our strategic goals are founded in our members’ collective vision for the future of our profession in this province.



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Our Budget

2019 | NSCSW Annual Report 39

Independent Auditor’s Report To the members of Nova Scotia College of Social Workers We have audited the accompanying financial statements of Nova Scotia College of Social Workers (the “organization”), which comprise the statement of financial position as at December 31, 2019 and the statements of operating revenue and expenses, fund balances and cash flows for the year then ended, and a summary of significant accounting policies and other explanatory information.

Qualif ied Opinion

Auditor’s Responsibility

In our opinion, except for the possible effects of the matter described in the Basis for Qualified Opinion section of our report, the accompanying financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the organization as at December 31, 2019 and the results of its operations and its cash flows for the year then ended in accordance with Canadian accounting standards for non-profit organizations.

Our objectives are to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements as a whole are free from material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error, and to issue an auditor’s report that includes our opinion. Reasonable assurance is a high level of assurance, but is not a guarantee that an audit conducted in accordance with Canadian generally accepted auditing standards will always detect a material misstatement when it exists. Misstatements can arise from fraud or error and are considered material if, individually or in the aggregate, they could reasonably be expected to influence the economic decisions of users taken on the basis of these financial statements. As part of an audit in accordance with Canadian generally accepted auditing standards, we exercise professional judgment and maintain professional skepticism throughout the audit. We also:

Basis for Qualif ied Opinion Note 1 describes the organization’s accounting policy with respect to capital assets. The organization expenses all capital asset purchases rather than capitalizing and amortizing them. In this respect, these financial statements are not in accordance with Canadian accounting standards for not-for-profit organizations. If the capital assets had been capitalized and amortized, the capital asset balance for the current year would have been $13,793 (2018 - $16,026), amortization for the current year would have been $5,262 (2018 - $6,785) and the closing balance of the operating fund would have been -$167,984 (2018 - -$155,110).

Management’s Responsibility for the Financial Statement Management is responsible for the preparation and fair presentation of these financial statements in accordance with Canadian accounting standards for not-for-profit organizations, and for such internal controls as management determines is necessary to enable the preparation of financial statements that are free from material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error. In preparing the financial statements, management is responsible for assessing the organization’s ability to continue as a going concern, disclosing as applicable, matters relating to going concern and using the going concern basis of accounting unless management either intends to liquidate the organization or to cease operations, or has no realistic alternative but to do so. Those charged with governance are responsible for overseeing the organization’s financial reporting process.

• Identify and assess the risks of material misstatement of the financial statements, whether due to fraud or error, design and perform audit procedures responsive to those risks, and obtain audit evidence that is sufficient and appropriate to provide a basis for our opinion. The risk of not detecting a material misstatement resulting from fraud is higher than for one resulting from error, as fraud may involve collusion, forgery, intentional omissions, misrepresentations, or the override of internal control. • Obtain an understanding of internal control relevant to the audit in order to design audit procedures that are appropriate in the circumstances, but not for the purpose of expressing an opinion on the effectiveness of the organization’s internal control. • Evaluate the appropriateness of accounting policies used and the reasonableness of accounting estimates and related disclosures made by management. We communicate with those charged with governance regarding, among other matters, the planned scope and timing of the audit and significant audit findings, including any significant deficiencies in internal control that we identify during our audit.



MAY 6, 2020


Statement of Financial Position DECEMBER 31, 2019

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Statement of Operating Revenue & Expenses YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2019

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Statement of Fund Balances YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2019

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