Connection Magazine: Collaboration & Change

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C NNECTIONS Spring Spring2022 2021| |Volume Volume5, 4,Issue Issue11

C NNECTIONS Collaboration & Change


SAVE THE DATE NSCSW Conference & Annual General Meeting MAY 12-13, 2023

Our annual conferences create opportunities for members of the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers and others in our communities to connect, plan, discover, and share knowledge. We hope to see you again next year. Questions? Contact N Siritsky at



Spring 2022 | Volume 5, Issue 1

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the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers,

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N Siritsky (RSW, College Staff)

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TABLE OF CONTENTS Volume 5, Issue 1


Collaboration & Change


The Voice of Social Work




February – March 2022


Become a Candidacy Mentor









Lighting the Path

Moving Forward

Defining Clinical Practice







Inviting Meetings of Like Minds

Planting the Seeds of Community

Spotlight on Our Membership

Spring 2022 | Connection 5

Collaboration & change

It has been another full year for staff, council, committees, and all members at the NSCSW. While we had hoped last year would lead us closer to ending the unprecedented global pandemic, we know that 2021 was even more challenging for many Nova Scotians and the social workers that serve them. The pandemic fundamentally exposed the deep holes in our social safety net and the pressure that social workers face in supporting vulnerable Nova Scotians in some of their toughest moments in the face of a woefully underfunded health and safety. In the face of so much suffering social workers have continued to rise to the challenge, ensuring the most vulnerable were cared for while continuing to work in solidarity with one another to build a more fair, just, and sustainable Nova Scotia. Throughout these challenges the College continued working towards its strategic goals, bringing online a number of new initiatives and projects and continuing to strengthen our existing programs.

I’m happy to share some of our highlights in this year’s annual report. With a new staff complement and reorganized positions we continued to regulate the profession by working to ensure the highest standards of social work practice for the people of Nova Scotia. As part of pursuing this goal, we’ve continued to evaluate our Candidacy Mentorship Program, making incremental improvements and working towards compliance. I’m delighted to say that all new applicants are engaging with the program in a timely manner, and are finding the support they need as they progress towards completing this requirement. Alec Stratford, MSW, RSW Registrar/Executive Director

It is with great enthusiasm that we completed a long overdue review of the professional development standards and programs so that we could implement appropriate changes this year. This undertaking coupled with our commitment to uproot white supremacy in social work practice with by examining best practices in regulation and trends in complaints. The new professional development standards are aimed at bringing our Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics to life. The College has also been leading a national project with our partners at the Canadian Council of Social Work Regulators to build an anti-racist regulatory framework, which will be a reflective tool to evaluate all of our regulatory programming to ensure we are working towards and achieving anti-racist regulation. Finally, a new clinical committee was struck in 2021 to focus on how we can strengthen clinical social work through

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The pandemic fundamentally exposed the deep holes in our social safety net and the pressure that social workers face in supporting vulnerable Nova Scotians in some of their toughest moments in the face of a woefully underfunded health and safety net.

regulation. Their work is ongoing, and the conversation on how we move forward is under way. We continued to be recognized as a leader in advocacy to protect Nova Scotians. In January of 2021 our social justice committee partnered with the Dalhousie School Of Social Work to launch a major report entitled Repositioning Social Work Practice in Mental Health in Nova Scotia. The report documented the experiences of social workers supervisors and service users, and provided 29 recommendations on how we can improve mental health systems. Woven throughout this paper was a narrative that matches much of the research literature globally; social workers are experiencing tension, leading to moral distress, between their core values and training and the demands of working in systems dominated by the medical model and its close cousin neoliberalism. The College has used this report to advocate for a mental health and addiction system that is rooted in a bio-psycho-social approach, a system that sees mental health as shaped by a person’s environment in the political cultural and economic context in which they live. We’ve also continued our important work with the Nova Scotia office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPANS), promoting our Social Policy Framework and engaging with government on its uses. In May of 2021 the College was one of many groups that joined CCPA-NS in launching a major report on housing and the policy needed to ensure that housing is a right and that everyone has access to safe affordable housing. We and our partners at the Nova Scotia

Action Coalition for Community Well-Being used this report to support a campaign called Housing Is Health. This and other community campaigns powered by the housing report helped lead to the current Progressive Conservative government’s reversal on rent control, which they agreed to extend for at least the next two years. We continued to work with the executive leadership at the Department of Community Services to tackle crucial issues in the delivery of child welfare services, focusing on social worker well-being and needs to end child poverty. I am delighted to say that at the end of a five-year campaign the College has prevailed in advocating for the creation of a child youth advocate office. We applaud Minister MacFarlane’s proposed Child and Youth Commission and are pleased that it will have all the same tools as an advocate office. Our efforts to raise the public discourse to engage with political decision makers and educate the public have helped to bring to life this crucial commitment that will better the lives of Nova Scotian children and youth. We also have continued to grow our capacity to offer professional development that aligns with our new standards. Last year we offered a record number of 22 events with rich content and deeper reflection. I am extremely grateful for the dedication of the staff, council and committees to this profession, and to this organization, and am proud of what we have achieved together.

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The Voice of Social Work

To combat the issue of underfunding, Stratford said the college is advocating for a “paradigm shift” in how the province views mental health spending. Nova Scotia’s mental health system

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. Here’s a small sample of what we were up to in 2021:

is focused on efficiency, he said, adding that it doesn’t offer much for those who may need longerterm support. Stratford called for a “bio-psycho-social” approach. “Part of that means looking at a broader framework of what mental wellness is, including the social determinants of health and spending in the area of income support, housing, food security, racism,” he said. A new approach would also consider mental well-being as a “lifelong journey” that requires consistent support, he added.

Advocates say mental health spending in Nova Scotia comes up short in new budget Danielle Edwards, Canadian Press March 29, 2021

Alec Stratford, executive director for the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers, agreed that an extension of EI sickness benefits is a pressing government matter. “We know very clearly that it is very easy to find yourself in poverty anywhere in Canada and oftentimes this can start with a disability or a sickness or an illness,” he explained.

Nova Scotia advocates urge Ottawa to fulfill election promise to extend EI sickness benefit Elizabeth McSheffrey, Global News February 28, 2021

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If we want healthy people and healthy communities – and let’s assume we do – the social workers said we need to ensure folks have adequate incomes, preferably from secure jobs, to lift them out of poverty; affordable, decent housing, and nutritious food, along with easy-to-access mental health services, shaped by community consultation and collaboration. The Nova Scotia College of Social Workers released a 244-page report specifically about the failures of the mental health and addictions machinery, but their prescription, which also stresses equity and social justice, would go a long way towards solving the broader “wicked problem,” as Dr. John Ross characterizes the health system in general.

The Nova Scotia College of Social Workers was not keen on the changes to the [Children and Family Services Act] when they were introduced six years ago. The changes were adopted into law in 2017, and now, four years into practice, the college — like Barkley — maintains the act is fundamentally flawed. As part of a mandatory four-year review of the act, the college submitted an analysis to the province (and shared it publicly earlier this month). That analysis said social workers have become overburdened with heavy caseloads and administrative duties, while clients are being underserved. The changes to the act have “contributed to greater inequity and inequality and [the act] needs serious

Social workers get to the heart of the matter Jim Vibert, Saltwire

revisions,” the submission said

January 15, 2021 Province calls for outside help in child welfare ‘transformation’ Taryn Grant, CBC March 14, 2021

On Dec. 8, 1966, the House of Commons passed the Medical Care Act. For 55 years, generations of Canadians have had access to health care based on need, rather than ability to pay. This national policy sets us apart from our southern neighbours, who often risk becoming homeless and bankrupt, and removes a profound obstacle that can impair an individual’s ability to access life-saving care.

The minister needs to view substance-use care through a bio-psycho-social lens and embrace strong intersectional thinking. This means ensuring strong connections between health and social care, such as the expansion of housing first and harm reduction programs with robust wraparound services.

We are overdue for similar investments in our social infrastructure, to expand resources, support providers, and apply evidence-based strategies to improve health outcomes and reduce costs and burden on direct provision of health care.

Op-ed: Addiction response feeble — Nova Scotia must up its game Alec Stratford, Saltwire September 20, 2021

Op-ed: Time for robust social infrastructure that supports public health N Siritsky, Saltwire December 23, 2021

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New Private Practitioners, Registered Social Workers, and Social Worker Candidates Approved by the NSCSW Board of Examiners Feb – Mar 2022

REGISTERED SOCIAL WORKERS Taylor Aymar Jalen Borden Kristina Brittain Julie Clarke Jennifer Dickison Shannon Gallant Louise Jones Alexa Kroon-Canning Kathleen Leaman Rebecca MacDougall Lydia Mazzuto Mary Chantal Mcallister Taryn McGown King Lam NG Soheila Pashang Emma Shaw

Heidi Simpson Emily Stewart Ashley Whitty

Lindsay Scott


Bryanna Thompson

Rheanna Chisholm Jocelyn Christian Deena El-Ziftawi Heidi Fuentes Jessica Hepworth Megan Johnson Shauna Manning Julia McCallum Allison Muise Meagan Munroe Sara Nolan Patricia O’Brien Mary Parisien

Cassidy Stark Jenny Thibault Kathleen Watson

PRIVATE PRACTITIONERS Jenna Adlakha Lisa Bowman Charmaine Dupuis Krista Gerrits Adam Matthews Shannon McCready Penny Moore Maki Sakata

Join the conversation


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CULTIVATING MENTORSHIP Candidacy mentors are an important link in the model for professional development within the membership of the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers. We would like to thank these mentors who have guided Social Worker Candidates through the successful completion of candidacy since February.

Nathalie Jamieson Lindsay Latham Samantha Mason Jason Morton Sarah Rafuse Nancy Ross Janice Spencer Ryan Wiens Thomas Williams

BECOME A MENTOR Mentorship is underscored by a climate of safety and trust, where candidates can develop their sense of professional identity. . We offer optional mentor training for members of the College, in the form of a self-directed online course. We also provide resources to help mentors support candidates’ learning throughout their candidacy. To learn more about the rewards of being a mentor, visit

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SHARE YOUR MESSAGE WITH NOVA SCOTIA SOCIAL WORKERS Connect with Nova Scotia’s social workers, advocacy, community groups, healthcare professionals and more.



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LIGHTING THE PATH A report from the Professional Standards Committee One of the many consequences of the recent restructuring of the College has been a renewed capacity to focus upon the development of standards and guidelines for our members, to assist them in navigating the complex decisions and situations that they face. The Professional Standards Committee was reconfigured this year, in order to accommodate for the depth and breadth of this task. Under the leadership of Haley Keeping and Erin Marie McDonald, this executive steering committee was formed to oversee many new work groups that have emerged. Some of these were started and completed their task this year, such as those that focused on creating our new professional development standards and our new guidelines for how social workers should proceed regarding clients who choose medical assistance in dying. Others are ongoing, such as those addressing vicarious trauma and secondary distress for social workers, the decolonization of social work and the creation of a new college social work consultation process.

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The steering committee has focused on creating a process for the development of guidelines and standards, in order to ensure that certain principles are honoured and included. For example, all policy and guidelines must have first voice input, in order to centre our work in the voices and perspectives of stakeholders who will be affected by them. Additional principles, aligned with our current code of ethics, include a commitment to decolonization and antiracist values, in order to ensure that social workers’ practice advance our profession’s larger social justice commitments. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we are working to integrate advocacy into our standards, given the potentially problematic nature of guidelines for social workers;

structurally they tend to be inherently rooted in our current

with the recently expanded federal law, and the College delivered a three-part series of educational webinars which included a social justice analysis of the guidelines and their legal underpinnings. Most significantly, the work group for professional development standards created new guidelines for professional development for all NSCSW social workers that came into effect January 1, 2022. These include several changes, including five new mandatory topics that the College has deemed to be essential for ensuring professional competency and to protect the public. The new requirements include training and or activities related to the following topics: 1. social work ethics 2. d ecolonization or other learning related to the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission 3. antiracism and anti-discriminatory practice

code of ethics, and the colonial underpinnings of our profession, as well as limited by current law and policy. The steering committee is also charged with developing oversight for the multiple work groups tasked with developing standards on different topics, and with recruiting subject matter experts to develop professional standards on a range of issues affecting Nova Scotian social workers and their practice. This committee will also focus upon developing communication and education regarding the education and dissemination of the standards and guidelines developed and expounded upon by the committee. Ongoing work groups include: •o ne focused on decolonizing social work, made up of primarily Indigenous social workers •o ne focused on developing an ethics consultation process for social workers faced with ethical dilemmas, and •o ne focused on developing guidelines and best practices for reducing vicarious trauma and secondary stress inherent in the profession of social work. Work groups that have been created this year, and which have completed their task, include one that was focused on the guidelines for how social workers ought to practice when working with someone choosing Medical Assistance in Dying. This work group revised the previous guidelines to align

4. social justice 5. s elf-care or other learning to reduce the impact of vicarious trauma and secondary distress that is inherent in the practice of social work. The Professional Standards Committee is always looking for volunteers to serve on some of its work groups. If there is a topic of great interest to you, please contact N Siritsky to discuss it further. Some of the upcoming projects that it is planning to undertake in the coming year include documentation guidelines as well as guidelines for social workers in light of the recent changes to the Divorce Act. Together, we can work to establish standards and guidelines that advance our values and our profession.

2021 COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Craig Besaw, Debra Bourque, Delphine du Toit, Jacqueline Duggan, Linden Hardie, Calandra Kandziora, Prasanna Kariyawansa, Haley Keeping (co-chair), Helen Luedee, Lauren Matheson, Erin McDonald (co-chair) April Munro-Wood, Jacklyn Paul, Janet Pothier, Terri-Lynn Smith, Curtis Stevens The Professional Standards Committee is always looking for volunteers to serve on some of our work groups. If there is a topic of great interest to you, please contact N Siritsky at to discuss.

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Lockdown: a word no one wanted to hear, but one that continued to control our lives throughout 2021. COVID-19 continued to present so many challenges to the world, our country, our province, our College and to ourselves. After the pandemic forced the cancellation of our 2020 conference, our committee was more determined than ever to put on a conference that was accessible to the membership, social workers in other provinces, and others in allied professions. Our first virtual conference, Challenging our Social Justice Lens, took place on May 14 -15, 2021. Much like an in-person conference, there were glitches, but in the end our committee was proud to be part of constructing a conference that reflected a future in which every member of the College could challenge their learning path. A thought

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provoking, forward-thinking cast of speakers spoke about disrupting white imposters, decolonization, the masks of trauma, social workers in the media, repositioning social work practice in mental health, the absence of recognition of racism in social work ethics, and transformational change in social policy.

How to honour the speakers and embrace their challenges they put forth? We began by changing the expectations of professional development.

Last summer a subgroup of our committee came together to review the College’s professional development standards. The outcome was a document that outlined changes to professional development that mandated yearly training in ethics, truth and reconciliation, diversity, vicarious trauma and social justice. These proposed changes received overwhelming support from the membership, and have been implemented in 2022. Now how to top a thought-provoking conference and new standards for the membership? We’re exploring the creation of a platform, a library that promotes these ideas and changes. We’re discussing how the College can create content for such a platform. We’re seeking out new ways of creating and promoting professional development that builds on each previous year. In keeping with this direction, the 2020 conference theme is Social Workers Leading Transformational Change in 2022, exploring new perspectives and skills to deliver crucial services in a changed landscape. This conference seeks to help our members embrace our role as agents of change, advocates and leaders, as we seek to pivot from our role in perpetuating bias and systemic inequity, toward decolonization and true justice for all people. This year, our conference remains virtual given the continued uncertainty of the pandemic’s impact. However, virtual also allows members from across the province to attend without the worry of travel or time away from family. Looking forward to next year, we envision a possible hybrid model, and welcome member feedback on this issue. As Chair of the Professional Development Committee, I am honoured to work to a dedicated, innovative, thoughtprovoking group of individuals who are the embodiment of social work, and a staff liaison who elevates our committee to an even higher level. So much talent! I am excited to see our next steps.

2021 COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Craig Besaw, Monica Boyd, Brandy Gryshik, Crystal Hill, Helen Luedee, April Munro-Wood (chair), Claire SampsonMacDonald, N Siritsky (staff), Joanne Sulman This committee is actively looking for new members. To join us in this journey, please contact N Siritsky via email, at

Social worker professional development in NS Every social worker in Nova Scotia needs to track professional development during the year and report it to NSCSW when they renew registration. Most NSCSW members need to complete 40 hours every year, including 6 hours on these newly mandated topics:

1 HOUR Social Work Ethics

1 HOUR Anti-racist & Anti-discriminatory Practice

1 HOUR Truth & Reconciliation

1 HOUR Social Justice

2 HOURS Prevention of Vicarious Trauma & Secondary Distress

Visit to review the full details of these professional development standards.

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DEFINING CLINICAL PRACTICE First report from the Clinical Committee

The clinical committee formed in April of 2021 and was given the mandate to strengthen clinical practice in Nova Scotia by exploring regulations and creating a clear scope of clinical practice. You can imagine the challenge, given the tension that can arise within clinical social work as practitioners are pulled between systems built around the medical model (which sees mental health as biological) and social work values and worldviews (which see mental health and substance use as being shaped by the environment that individuals, families, and groups live in). The committee explored how we could situate clinical social work practice within the dominant systems in a way that would maintain the integrity and the values of social work practice.

We believe that through much debate discussion and consensus that we’ve put forward a strong scope that is representative of clinical social work in Nova Scotia, a scope with a strong focus on bio-psycho-social-spiritual abilities. We hope that this year Special General Meeting the membership will agree with us and adopt the proposed clinical regulations and scope of practice and empower us to continue to develop the regulations, Standards of Practice and Policy to allow clinical social work to flourish in Nova Scotia. We have put forward that clinical social work practice is considered advanced practice and involves individuals, families, and groups. Clinical practice situates the individual within their social context including the family, social,

We’re pleased to say that we believe we have

economic, cultural, and political structures that affect health and well-being. Through evidence-based modalities

developed a scope of clinical practice that we feel

and a focus on the social determinants of mental health,

is representative of clinical social work in Nova

prevention practices through bio-psycho-social-spiritual

Scotia, and developed a proposal on how we might best regulate that practice.

clinical social work utilizes assessments, interventions, and approaches to help clients achieve their goals. Clinical social work is informed by the broader concepts intrinsic to social work practice: a theoretical grasp of individuals within the contexts of their environments; a

The journey to get here was certainly rooted in similar tensions that many clinical social workers face. Social work practice is broad in terms of its applications, but at its core are values of humanitarianism, egalitarianism, and human rights, and unwavering commitment to social justice. The tension in clinical social work practice is certainly complex and the committee recognized the need for Clinical Social Workers to bring a fundamental knowledge of the medical model the use of the DSM 5 and its limitations. There is also a fundamental need to be able to situate someone’s mental health in the context of their environment looking at the various social, economic, political, and cultural forces that shape a person’s mental health with a strong focus on social justice and collective responsibility.

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commitment to the principles of social justice and human rights, and an orientation to client and family centered, strength-based, goal-oriented practice. We believe that clinical social work requires complex decision making, systemic analysis and advanced critical thinking skills gained through academic education, supervised practice, continuous improvement, and focused professional development. Clinical social workers engage directly with individuals, couples, families, and groups focused on complex issues impacting on individual and family functioning and their relationships including, but not limited to, mental health, addiction, trauma, grief/loss/illness.

We have identified these four primary abilities of clinical social work practice:

ASSESSMENT OF PERSON-INENVIRONMENT Clinical social workers must have the abilities to complete assessments on human struggle and suffering throughout the stages of life using theories of human behaviour shaped by family, social, economic, cultural, spiritual, and political structures. Clinical social workers use a person in environment lens to apply and critique a diagnosis in solidarity with clients.

RELATIONAL Clinical social workers must be able to recognize that all individuals live in a social and relational context. Each person is therefore always affected by, and affects in turn, the social relationships and social context in which their life is embedded.

for effective clinical interventions with individuals, families, couples, and groups. This means being familiar with social, psychological, cultural, sociopolitical, environmental and health factors that influence the well-being of their clients. Overall, clinical social workers would use person-inenvironment assessments, while drawing on a range of other practice approaches to inform their understanding of clinical need and case formulation. The client’s relationship to their life, environment, and overall social context are centred. This creates a focus on the therapeutic alliance, which is often the primary distinction between a social work approach and that of other disciplines. We are looking forward to continuing our work and drafting the details on how we might achieve our goals.

2021 COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Jacquelyn Allan, Kelly Breau, Catrina Brown, Patrick Daigle, James Dubé, Robyn Hazard, Jessica Heidebrecht, Alex Hill, Brandy Gryshik (co-chair), Jim Morton, Andrea Shaheen (co-chair), Errin Williams

COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY Clinical social workers must develop a shared responsibility with clients, colleagues, organizations, and community, for creating a strong, connected, and supportive society that enhances the wellbeing of persons in their environment, inclusive of principles of social justice and human rights.

REFLEXIVITY Clinical social workers must demonstrate reflexivity through the development of self-awareness and agency to take an active role in the knowledge-making process. This facilitated through an examination of theory and practice used to make sense of ambiguous and complex situations in practice. Clinical social workers demonstrate an understanding of human social behaviour and knowledge and skills related to mental health, substance use and trauma for effective clinical interventions with individuals, families, couples, and groups.

Clinical social workers also demonstrate knowledge and skills regarding mental health, substance use, and trauma,

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Our committee has now completed the third year of its mental health project and we are extremely proud of what we have been able to accomplish. We’ve made it through a second year of COVID-19, as well as other events that have challenged our mental health and overall wellness as a province. We know that rates of depression, anxiety and household conflict have increased in general, and that the use of alcohol and cannabis has risen in certain populations (Grant et al., 2021). We’ve welcomed a growth in membership in 2021 with the amazing support of the College’s new Professional Practice and Advocacy Consultant, N Siritsky. We also said goodbye to long-serving committee member Harold Beals and to the toughest-shoes-ever-to-fill Chair, Jim Morton (who thankfully remains a general member of our committee!).

It has been an honour for me to step in to lead such a thoughtful and diverse group of individuals. This past year saw the dissemination of, and dialogue in response to, Repositioning Social Work Practice in Mental Health in Nova Scotia, an exciting report prepared by researchers from the Dalhousie University School of Social Work. Having heard wonderful feedback from the first Big Ideas in Mental Health virtual panel, the committee continued this community awareness-raising series throughout the year. We facilitated conversations related to mental health in Indigenous, Black and African Nova Scotian communities, as well as the importance of gender-affirming care and the impact of housing insecurity on mental health. These panel discussions have been well-attended and appreciated, and are available for viewing online. Our committee also led the creation of the NSCSW’s Social Justice Ally Award in 2021. This award will be given annually to an individual in the public sphere who has used their position, celebrity or social standing to advocate for the role of social workers in serving the public good and who has advanced our ethical mandate to work toward the establishment of equity and social justice. We had the privilege of presenting the first award to Nova Scotian writer and artist, Anna Quon, at the fall awards banquet.

recently created NS Office of Addictions and Mental Health, directed by chief officer Dr. Sam Hickcox, and overseen by the cabinet minister Brian Comer. Recognizing the importance of ongoing dialogue with stakeholders in government and authentic community collaboration, we also enthusiastically supported the College’s first Advocacy Day during National Social Work Month in March 2022. This amazing event was facilitated in partnership with the Nova Scotia Division of the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Nova Scotia office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, as well as Senator Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard and SENgage. Advocacy Day was a huge success and will continue to mature over the coming years as an annual event. Video recordings of the day’s community forum and policy planning session are also available online. Committee efforts on the mental health project will continue through to the end of 2023, using our strategic plan as the foundation for our work. We plan to continue to grow mental health stakeholder engagement and education, including a focus on the Repositioning report recommendations and more Big Ideas panels. I am grateful to all of my colleagues on the committee who have joined in these efforts. You will be sure to hear from us again throughout 2022.

REFERENCE Grant, A., Young-Shand, K., Patterson, S., Baur, K., Boulos, L., Bradley, C., Jeffers, E., Kontak, J., Ricketts, J., Sensi, I., Simon, P., Stoddard, R., Taylor, B., Wozney, L. conducted in partnership with Mental Health Research Canada. Different boats in a stormy sea: The mental health impacts of COVID-19 on Nova Scotians. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit (MSSU); 2021.

2021 COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Harold Beals, Jodi Butler, Eileen Coole, Megan Flynn, Chris Hessian, Phoebe Johnston, Prasanna Kariyawansa, Haley Keeping, Emma Larsen-Ure, Dermot Monaghan, Colin Morrison, Jim Morton, Janelle MacDonnell, Juanita Paris, Adrianna Pilgrim, Janet Pothier, Mario Rolle, Cassie ShawBishop, N Siritsky (staff), Patricia Stephens-Brown, Emily Stewart, Michelle Towill, Valerie White

Last year also gave our committee the opportunity to develop a number of important relationships, including with the

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PLANTING THE SEEDS OF COMMUNITY A report from the Connections Committee Last year, our committee bid adieu to the beloved Howard Beal, who expertly led our committee and our communication efforts for many years, as he decided that the time had come for him to step away and begin a new chapter for himself. We are grateful for his passionate leadership and dedicated vision. The Editorial Committee has undergone many changes this past year, transforming itself into the new Connections Committee, with a new chair and many new members. We’ve retained our primary focus on the development and production of Connection magazine, but also expanded our focus to consider alternative methods of connecting with our members and advancing our social justice messages, which are at the heart of our profession. We’re embracing a new chapter, while maintaining our commitment to

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upholding the best of Connection’s legacy and publishing new issues that reflect our profession’s evolving understanding of social work itself and the world in which we operate. Produced three times during each calendar year, in the fall, winter and spring, Connection has undergone several transformations since it was first distributed in 1967 as a newsletter to connect with members and keep them engaged with the organization.

It evolved in recent years into a professional magazine that educates, celebrates, connects, and advocates.

We both print and publish a digital version of this magazine, and we distribute it to social workers, community and advocacy groups and more; along with our government leaders, including all MLAs and MPs in Nova Scotia. This past year, our Fall issue focused on housing and homelessness while our Winter issue explored critical social work perspectives on trauma. Both emphasized the diverse perspectives that reflect our profession’s broad interdisciplinary approach, while also reinforcing our commitment to advancing the principles of our social policy framework and the values from our code of ethics. In addition to this editorial focus, and an amplified emphasis on expanding our social media presence, our committee is beginning to develop a process by which we will create a “community of connection” for our members. Specifically, we are working to build a framework for communities of practice, which will enable our members to connect with one another for support, shared resources, and learning. Communities of practice are opportunities for social workers practicing in different geographic or professional areas (e.g., mental health, homelessness, disability, long term care) to meet periodically, to share ideas and best practices, to create and disseminate knowledge, to debrief, and to mobilize when there is a need for advocacy. These communities can also help breathe new life into our

practice, and bring fellowship to social workers who are typically isolated in their work, providing avenues for critical reflection, peer processing and support, as well as visioning of new ideas and creative solutions. In addition to fulfilling our committee’s mandate to connect our members, this will also enable our committee to be able to reach out to different stakeholders when working to create future issues on specific topics, and ensure that we are reflecting the voices, experiences, concerns and hopes of our members. Furthermore, this will ensure that our other committees are also able to better serve the needs of social workers in all of their uniqueness. Thus, the work of the Connection Committee this past year has been both formative and transformative. We are excited to launch our communities of practice over the coming year, to continue to create engaging issues of our magazine, and to explore new ways of connecting with each other and with the broader public whom we serve.

2021 COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Eileen Coole, Brent Cosgrove, Louise Egan, Rebecca Faria (staff), Bernadette Fraser, Dermot Monaghan, Tom Osborne, Valence Parmar, Annette Samson, N Siritsky (staff), Rachel Smith, Shalyse Sangster, Michelle Towill (chair).

Spring 2022 | Connection 23





5% 3%


Social workers by region

2% 2%

52% Halifax 52.94%

North Shore 6.29%

Fundy Shore 3.62%

Cape Breton 15.43%

Colechester 5.27%

Cumberland 2.39%

Annapolis 7.98%

South Shore 3.78%

Out of Province 2.30%

24 Connection | Spring 2022

New applications by country

Social workers by designation

338 Private Practitioners

1,353 Registered Social Workers


New applications by province

Social Worker Candidates (Active)

139 Students

129 Associates


Associates (Retired)

2,436 Total

Age of social workers

3% 18% 35% 43% Gen Z


Gen X


Spring 2022 | Connection 25

Where we work We asked our members where they practice. Here’s a snapshot of where you might find Nova Scotian social workers at work. Senator of Canada 1 member

Outside of Province 6 members

Indigenous Organization 18 members

Long-Term Care 25 members

Justice 28 members

Other Provincial Government 22 members

Post-secondary 26 members

IWK: Other 44 members

Canada Armed Forces, Supports & Veterans Affairs – 45 members

Nova Scotia Health Continuing Care – 55 members

DCS: Other 68 members

IWK: Community Mental Health & Addictions – 52 members

DCS: Disability Support Program – 63 members

Child Welfare - Mi’kmaw Family Services - 87 members

Private Practice & Community Mental Health – 117 members

Other – 153 members

Nova Scotia Health: Other 182 members

Nova Scotia Health: Mental Health & Addictions – 321 members

DCS: Child Welfare 405 members

School Social Worker 78 members

Community Not for Profit 162 members

26 Connection | Spring 2022

2021 NSCSW


2021 | NSCSW Annual Report 27

Contents 29

Your Council


Envisioning & building a promising future

28 NSCSW Annual Report | 2021


Setting standards for our profession


Holding ourselves to these standards


Providing for our people


Where your membership fees go


Our budget


Auditor’s report

Your Council Dalhousie University School of Social Work Student: vacant

President: Lynn Brogan

Regional Representatives:

Vice-President: Todd Leader

Northern: Crystal Hill, vacant

Treasurer: Kate Matheson

Eastern: Catherine Kehoe, Karla Bond

Universite Sainte Anne Faculty: Veronique Brideau-Cormier

Secretary: Laurie Ehler

Central: Donna LeMoine,

Past President : Ezra Wexler

Jody Yurkowsky-Pace

To connect with the President of Council

Western: Laura Rodriguez, Iain Ford

Nova Scotia Association of Black Social Workers: SaDeia Williams

Other Representatives:

Indigenous Member: vacant

Executive Officers:


Board of Examiners: Chair: Joline Comeau

Universite Sainte Anne Student: vacant

CASW Board Member: Debbie Reimer Dalhousie University School of Social Work Faculty: Judy MacDonald

2021 | NSCSW Annual Report 29

Envisioning & building a promising future A message from the NSCSW Council President We have experienced significant changes over the last decade, including changes in leadership and staffing. In 2016, amendments were made to the 1993 Social Workers Act which transformed the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers into a College, and sparked a renewed vision and growth for the NSCSW. The amended Social Workers Act resulted in major changes to the College’s mandate as both a regulatory and association body, our programming, and brand. The College also embarked on a provincial campaign to renew its professional commitments, values, ethics, and professional practices.

In 2017 the College focused on ensuring the highest standards of professional and ethical social work practice for the people of Nova Scotia, enhancing communication and engagement with members and the public including: building a bi-weekly member newsletter; transforming Connection magazine; offering professional development opportunities throughout Nova Scotia; and rebuilding core committees armed with a clear focus and expectations. That year also saw a provincial consultation regarding social work ethics, a revised Candidacy Mentorship Program, and significant achievements made toward becoming a recognized leader in advocacy, and social justice working to protect Nova Scotians. A transformational agenda led to the College conducting a provincial consultation with its membership in effort to develop a Strategic Plan. An ambitious 5-year Strategic Plan was created, with the overall objective to fulfill the College’s mandate and create a vibrant, visible, and vocal social work community. The membership voted to adopt this plan in 2018.

In the face of challenges, social workers continue to bring hope.


With increased membership, demands and expectations comes operational pressures – on both fiscal and human resources. The pressure the College faced eventually exceeded the ability of the small complement of staff to effectively attend to its mandate and expected deliverables. Based on these pressures, Council took careful consideration to review the current staff complement and determine the capacity to meet our legislative mandate and strategic agenda. Council made the decision to approve additional human resource expenses to make all staff positions full-time, and this allowed the executive director/ registrar to reorganize staff responsibilities. These changes led in 2021 to newly defined full-time roles for staff, including a professional practice and advocacy consultant, and an administrative support position. The professional practice and advocacy consultant position is now accountable for organizing professional development opportunities and supporting social workers to achieve their professional development requirements. Council was so pleased with Alec’s hiring of N Siritsky, who now reviews, develops and evaluates internal policy regarding professional standards. Finally, N is responsible for membership and community stakeholder engagement. This includes developing, implementing, and facilitating advocacy and community development activities in solidarity with members, and with community partners that advocate for the values of the profession.

The new administrative support position acts as the first point of contact for the NSCSW’s office, and is accountable for supporting overall general administrative operations in support of the goals, objectives, vision and mission of the College. Council was pleased with the hiring of Suzanne Kutach in this role; she is now the primary administrative and logistical support to all staff in the office, and to NSCSW’s Council and committees. The additional capacity gained by increasing staff roles from part-time to full-time has already paid off in a very big way. In a review of the NSCSW operating plan, council has seen a 20 per cent increase in the outputs achieved in 2021. The completed projects included a review and implementation of our new revised professional development program, a greater focus on professional standards, a record 22 professional development sessions, and increased advocacy and public presence. All of this to better serve the public and support social workers. While I acknowledge and celebrate the extraordinary devotion of social workers and their pivotal roles, especially in the context of an unprecedented world pandemic, we remain aware of the urgency of our opportunities for growth. I recognize the need to continue our shared efforts towards social justice, equity, and critical self-reflection as we advance reconciliation, anti-racism and equity. The ongoing centring of whiteness we’ve witnessed during the pandemic – and the subsequent systemic violence of anti-Black,

anti-Asian and anti-Indigenous racism, antisemitism, and Islamophobia –continue to remind us of the responsibility of our profession in preserving inherent social work values grounded in integrity, ethical practice, and equitable service to humanity. We share the responsibility of ensuring these values are being practiced and taught in a consistent, antioppressive and sustainable manner. In the face of challenges, social workers continue to bring hope. As our profession is grounded in principles of social justice, optimism comes naturally as we see a better world in front of us. We are secure in the knowledge that our profession is united in our shared commitment to sustain social change and to continue to transform the legacy of our profession through our daily efforts in our communities, in our classrooms and in our offices. I am so proud of you all, and proud to know that social work is essential and social workers are in critical demand. I continue to be proud to serve as the NSCSW president, and privileged to continue to promote our incredible profession of social work alongside you all.

Setting standards for our profession BY JOLINE COMEAU, BOARD OF EXAMINERS CHAIR

The Board of Examiners is responsible for the regulatory role of the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers. Our role with the College includes considering new applicants to the candidacy program, new Registered Social Workers, and approving new Private Practitioners. We also consider regulatory policy to ensure that it enables high standards of practice within the social work profession in Nova Scotia. During our second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, we continued to meet virtually and to adapt to the new reality. We received a high number of applicants to private practice, and many social workers joined our College from other province, territories, and countries; the number of members of the College continues to grow. We introduced guidance for Private Practitioners navigating the vaccine mandate, as well as other important safety measures social workers needed to consider during the pandemic.

We were also active in consultation and development of the new professional development standard to ensure that social workers are staying informed on important topics such as truth and reconciliation, antiracist & anti-discriminatory practice, social justice, vicarious trauma & secondary stress, as well as continued ethics training. In 2021, we used trends from disciplinary cases in Nova Scotia and other jurisdictions to develop three very important policies for the College:

SEXUAL MISCONDUCT Unfortunately, sexual misconduct has been a growing issue among professional regulators, and there has been a clear need to clarify the legal, professional, and ethical expectations of all social workers practising in Nova Scotia. We have created a set of policies regarding sexual misconduct, which included new standards of practice. The BoE will be putting forward a motion to adopt these new standards at our special general meeting. Through these new standards the NSCSW will establish the practice, behavioural, and reporting expectations of all social workers regarding sexual misconduct. The standards also set outs presumptive disciplinary sanctions the College will seek upon findings and/or admissions of sexual misconduct. In addition to the new standards, we also developed complaints policy and procedure

32 NSCSW Annual Report | 2021

TRAUMA SPECIALIZATIONS IN PRIVATE PRACTICE There has been an increasing demand for trauma-related specializations within provision of mental health services. This is coupled with increasing and long-overdue public discourse on Canada’s legacy of enslavement and colonization and entrenchment of anti-black and anti-Indigenous racism. Recognizing the complexity of trauma therapy, the increasing demand, and the current political context, all which created an increasing risk to the public regarding the provision of trauma specific therapy, we developed and implemented new policy. Private practitioners of social work – who may practice independently, without the support of an employer, and are solely liable for their practice – are now required to apply for authorization to include traumarelated specializations in their private practice. There is more detail on this policy in the Winter issue of Connection, which explored critical social work perspectives on trauma.

FITNESS TO PRACTICE We also have new policies and procedures regarding fitness to practice.

The policy also establishes that moral injury is associated with impaired social well‐being and affects capacity in practice. Morally injurious events (such as perpetrating or failing to prevent acts that transgress deeply held moral beliefs and expectations) can result in significant psychological distress, and can have profound effects on critical domains of emotional, psychological, behavioural, social, and spiritual functioning. This places a critical responsibility on social workers to be reflecting on their mental health and engaging appropriate supports. Practising while incapacitated constitutes professional misconduct. However, the complaints proceeding – which is rooted in a quasi-judicial process that follows principles of administrative law – is not an ideal place to resolve public safety issues related to health and mental health, substance use and/or moral injury.

BOARD OF EXAMINERS MEMBERS: Dennis Adams, Afolake Awoyiga, Jaqi Allan, Lynn Cheek, Joline Comeau (chair), Jeff Karabanow, Jack Landreville, Angela Penny, Shireen Singer

GOVERNMENT APPOINTEES: Bobbi Boudreau, Lianne Chang, Lisandra Naranjo

Aligned with our progressive approach to professional regulation, we created a policy that allows for an informal resolution process to proceed when the College reasonably believes that the incapacity can be successfully supported or remedied such that the social worker can practice safely, competently, and ethically; and the social worker is likely to pursue appropriate remediation or support. This process promotes healing and growth while ensuring that our obligations to the public interest are upheld.

The first of these polices requires that all social workers declare that they have qualities and capabilities of an individual relevant to their capacity to practise as a social worker, including but not limited to: freedom from any cognitive, physical, psychological, or emotional condition and dependence on alcohol or drugs that impairs their ability to practice, upon renewal of registration.

2021 | NSCSW Annual Report 33

Holding ourselves to these standards BY JOLINE COMEAU, COMPLAINTS COMMITTEE CHAIR

The mandate of the College is to serve and protect the 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 issues 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.

2021 COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Dennis Adams, Joline Comeau (chair), Jack Landreville, Lisandra Naranjo (public appointed member), Ogochukwu Okechukwu (staff), Valerie Shapiro (staff)

34 NSCSW Annual Report | 2021

The number of complaints received and processed by this committee remain high. In 2021, 21 new complaints were made, 14 were carried over from 2020, totaling 35 matters. Of these 35 open 2021 complaint matters processed, 25 were closed, and 10 were carried over into 2022. The complaints committee rendered 25 final decisions. The discipline committee rendered 1 final decision, which resulted in revocation.

A look at 2021 Complaints Domain

16 6 1 1

Child welfare Healthcare (IWK and NSH) Private Practice



10 10 1 1 3

Dismissals Letters of Counsel Discipline Committee Decision Reprimand by Consent


19 5 1



Third Party


2021 | NSCSW Annual Report 35

Providing for our people Report f rom the NSCSW Treasurer OUR PROVINCE The past year brought with it a change in provincial government, a government that has promised substantial change. Tim Houston’s Progressive Conservatives have promised to “fix” health care, focusing on mental health, primary health care, and elder care. They ran on the promise that we could improve services, continue with natural resource extraction, and address climate change, all while being fiscally responsible – we could do it all – but these are significant investments that require substantial spending. We have been advocating for increased investment in the people of our province for many years and we will continue to do so.


Our partners at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives have been telling the story of our deep need for investment and that need has only increased during the pandemic. The end of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit has meant a return to dire circumstances for the many who were lifted by the $2000 per month provided. As many families are faced with looming CERB debt, inadequate wages, inadequate income assistance and rising costs, it is all the more essential that our provincial government’s promises of investment provide a benefit for everyone.

TREASURER Most alarming to our membership, increasing levels of poverty in Nova Scotia are translating to increasing numbers of children living in poverty in our province. CCPA’s 2021 Report

36 NSCSW Annual Report | 2021

Card on Child Poverty found that more than 41,000 children in Nova Scotia are living in poverty, the highest rate of child poverty in Atlantic Canada and the third highest in the country. Responsible fiscal management by our College leadership has meant that we are able to dedicate funds to research child poverty in Nova Scotia so that we are fully informed and capable of advocating to the best of our ability. We are hopeful that the provincial government’s promises translate to policy as the new Minister of Community Services has been mandated to reduce poverty – if only our goal could be to eliminate it, as once was promised by a long past federal government.

OUR MONEY Trends that we have seen over the past few years continue; increased applications to the College have increased our revenues and this year we became a million-dollar organization. This significant milestone brings with it immense responsibility – our revenue is our member’s money, it is your commitment to ethical, professional practice. The College has committed to delivering professional development opportunities and 2021 was a success with robust programming, accessible and relevant to a diversity of practice contexts. A membership survey indicated that you want to see increased promotion of the profession and we continue to dedicate funds to do just

As the College continues to promote social work and advocate for social justice, we will continue to experience increased public accountability, often through regulatory processes such as member investigations and discipline.

that. As the College continues to promote social work and advocate for social justice, we will continue to experience increased public accountability, often through regulatory processes such as member investigations and discipline. These are expensive endeavours that often involve legal advice and a great deal of time and energy from our staff. It is essential that staff and council remain responsive to these pressures. Changes to the staff complement over the past year have been one strategy we’ve implemented, and it is clear that this investment has had a positive impact on engagement with both the public and membership.

OUR BUDGET We have made a significant investment in our digital assets this year. We secured a new contract to host our database and we are exploring a new server to store our information. This new contract will provide us with increased protection and improved services. As we continue to conduct more of our business and professional lives online, we must also implement the best protection for our money. We are projecting another million-dollar year in 2022, demonstrating the importance of maintaining our fiscal responsibility and also an opportunity to continue providing engaging services to members and strong advocacy for the public. With increased cost of living, we

are glad to be able to provide an increase to staff salaries, on top of the renewed salaries as determined by our HANS consultation. Due to responsible management, we expect a surplus of $8,630 for 2022, which will be allocated to our special projects, as usual. The College has continued to save substantially on Council and committee meeting costs as we continue to join our colleagues and friends virtually. We have for another year maintained the balance required by our governance policies in both the operational fund at $521,145 and the discipline fund at $167,793. With the professionalism and passion of staff, diligent oversight of Council, and focus of our Board of Examiners, we will continue to manage the membership’s funds responsibly. I’m excited for our continued work together, and I’m excited to learn from and with my colleagues across the province. It can’t be said enough that the opportunities for us to do so are made possible by the dedication and passion of the NSCSW staff, and I know we are all grateful for them.

Our total assets as of December 31, 2021, were $1,685,206

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

Where your membership fees go

organization also requires the necessary funding to fulfill its mandate and realize its goals. In addition to fulfilling our mandated 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.





38 NSCSW Annual Report | 2021


Our Budget

2021 | NSCSW Annual Report 39

Independent Auditor’s Report To the members of Nova Scotia College of Social Workers Qualif ied Opinion We have audited the financial statements of Nova Scotia College of Social Workers (the “College”), which comprise the statement of financial position as at December 31, 2021 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. 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 College as at December 31, 2021 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.

Basis for Qualif ied Opinion Note 2 describes the College’s accounting policy with respect to capital assets. The College 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 $11,387 (2020 - $14,234), amortization for the current year would have been $2,846 (2020 - $4,946) and the closing balance of the operating fund would have been $14,793 (2020 - -$53,268).

Management’s Responsibility for the Financial Statement Management is responsible for the preparation and fair presentation of these financial statements in accordance with ASNPO, 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 College’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 College or to cease operations, or has no realistic alternative but to do so. Those charged with governance are responsible for overseeing the College’s financial reporting process.

Auditor’s Responsibility 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: • I dentify 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. •O btain 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. •E valuate the appropriateness of accounting policies used and the reasonableness of accounting estimates and related disclosures made by management. •C onclude on the appropriateness of management’s use of the going concern basis of accounting and, based on the audit evidence obtained, whether a material uncertainty exists related to events or conditions that may cast significant doubt on the College’s ability to continue as a going concern. If we conclude that a material uncertainty exists, we are required to draw attention in our auditor’s report to the related disclosures in the financial statements or, if such disclosures are inadequate, to modify our opinion. Our conclusions are based on the audit evidence obtained up to the date of our auditor’s report. However, future events or conditions may cause the College to cease to continue as a going concern. •E valuate the overall presentation, structure and content of the financial statements, including the disclosures, and whether the financial statements represent the underlying transactions and events in a manner that achieves fair presentation. 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.


Statement of Financial Position YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2021

2021 | NSCSW Annual Report 41

Statement of Operating Revenue & Expenses YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2021

42 NSCSW Annual Report | 2021

Statement of Fund Balances YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2021

2021 | NSCSW Annual Report 43

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