What social work looks like (Connection Magazine & 2022 NSCSW Annual Report)

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Spring 2021 | Volume 4, Issue 1 C NNECTIONS C NNECTIONS C NNECTIONS Spring 2023 | Volume 6, Issue 1 What social work
looks like


MAY 24-25, 2024

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 nsiritsky@nscsw.org.

Published three times a year by the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers

1888 Brunswick Street, Suite 700 Halifax, NS B3J 3J8

Phone: 902.429.7799

Fax: 902.429.7650

Web: nscsw.org

Connection is © Copyright 2023 by the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers, and also reserves copyright for all articles. Reproduction without written permission from the publisher is not allowed.

Next issue Summer 2023


2023 | Volume 6, Issue 1



Brittany Pickrem, Branding & Design


Rebecca Faria (College staff)

Bernadette Fraser, RSW

Christine Merrigan, RSW

Dermot Monaghan, PP

Amy Pinnell, PP

Annette Samson, RSW

Naj Siritsky, RSW (College staff)

Rachel Smith, RSW (chair)

Hannah Stewart, RSW


To advertise please contact the College’s Communication Coordinator Rebecca Faria at rebecca.faria@nscsw.org.



Spring 2023 | Connection 3
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Spring 2023 | Connection 5 TABLE OF CONTENTS Volume 6, Issue 1 06 08 10 13 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 YOUR COLLEGE What Social Work Looks Like ENGAGEMENT The Voice of Social Work WELCOME TO NSCSW Nov 2022 – April 2023 CULTIVATING MENTORSHIP Become a Candidacy Mentor CONNECTIONS Storytelling & Social Work SOCIAL JUSTICE Gathering Community, Gathering Momentum PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT Planting Seeds in a Shared Garden PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS Turning a New Leaf DECOLONIZATION Action Sprouting from Acknowledgement CLINICAL Establishing Reliable Roots SPOTLIGHT Spotlight on Our Membership

What social work looks like

What a year 2022 was!

As we look at the year behind us and the opportunities in front of us our theme for National Social Work Month in 2023 still resonates strongly. Social work is essential, and is positioned to identify and fill systemic gaps, provide key services and programs, and connect communities to what they need, all while applying our skills to build a more just world. We are so proud of our members, and recognize and celebrate the invaluable contributions of social workers in supporting health, mental health and child and family well-being across complex systems and settings.

In our fight for justice, hope is an important beacon for communities and ourselves. With the multiple crises of cost of living, housing, health care, deep racial inequity and the climate crisis, being hopeful when there is so much despair is perhaps too much of an ask. However, there are clear indications that when we work in solidarity with our communities, social change does happen.

We are delighted to celebrate the creation of new social work education programs in Nova Scotia. To our friends at Cape Breton University, we know your new program rooted in trauma informed care and contextualized to Cape Breton will be a huge benefit to all Nova Scotians. We are equally proud and thrilled for our partners at the Dalhousie School of Social Work who also announced their Africentric Social Work program at the end of January. Both programs will add greater diversity to the profession in Nova Scotia, a crucial component of the fight for justice. We are thrilled for all of those who were involved in their creation.

Along with the achievements of CBU and Dalhousie to create more opportunities for greater racial justice in the provision of social work, this year also brings with it three big advocacy wins that our members, the College and our policy partners have been fighting for, and that truly speak to the value that social work brings to the province.

We eagerly anticipate tabling of legislation to create a child and youth commission in our province, which will hold the same powers as advocate offices across Canada. Child and youth advocate offices have played a crucial role in the protection and provision of services to vulnerable children and youth. Social workers have worked hard to ensure that children and youth in Nova Scotia are not left vulnerable to the failings and abuses of state power and have pushed for the establishment of a legislated child and youth rights-based organization whose primary focus is to advocate, report and make recommendations to address failures of policy. Over the past five years our members, the College and our partners

6 Connection | Fall 2019

have had a laser focus on campaigning, engaging with media, providing education to the public, working with researchers, and meeting with MLAs. I had the distinct privilege of working with the government to create the final recommendations to the Minister on governance and operations of the office, and look forward to its creation.

Second, on March 1 the Government of Nova Scotia announced the creation of a new Financial Stabilization Payment. This payment is intended to fill the gaps created by federal regulation that find parents ineligible for the Canada Child Benefit after their children have been placed in the temporary care and custody of the Minister of Community Services. Child welfare social workers, the College and community advocates have been pushing for this change for the last six years as it has caused undue financial strain and acute financial instability for affected families. Concerted strategic efforts utilizing research, media, and focus on creating pressure from both inside and outside the system led to this crucial victory and the first payment of its kind in Canada. This is what social work practice looks like, and I am so proud of what we have achieved together.

Finally, the Department of Community Services has announced that it is moving forward with core changes to finally provide a long overdue practice framework for child welfare, one that focuses on well-being and strengths, rather than surveillance and punishment. This was achieved through concerted efforts internal to DCS with the NSGEU and labour management committees made up of social workers, community meetings and College pressure to change the delivery of child welfare services to align with social work values. The Department of Community Services has confirmed that the new framework will empower social workers to advocate for their clients and senior leadership at DCS has confirmed that advocacy will no longer be ostracized from the provision of child protection services. The fight for a system that truly works for child and family well-being is far from over, this marks a significant shift in government policy.

As I reflect on what social work has achieved in this province I am filled with immense pride, and I hope you share in it. I know that this is just the beginning of what we can achieve together.

I often utilize and reflect on this quote, but I think it shines through with such wisdom in our current political state.

TO BE HOPEFUL in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassio n, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

Spring 2023 | Connection 7
What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvellous victory
― Howard Zinn

The Voice of Social Work

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 2022:

When Nova Scotians see stories like this that paint a picture of a system that isn’t working in the interests of children, it strengthens the narrative that public services cannot meet our needs and it continues to erode trust in crucial government services.

For social workers, emotions run in many directions: anger that their actions are portrayed as uncaring, frustration that there is not a broader understanding by Nova Scotians of their role, and moral distress as they are consistently asked to take on tasks that are counter to their core values and training and that they know will cause harm.

As for me, there is despair for a system that has been far too neglected, and hurt for all the social workers who bear the brunt of public scrutiny when such stories emerge.

But I am currently feeling a moment of hope, however fleeting it may be. Hope that this story will highlight for you, the premier, your cabinet colleagues, and all Nova Scotians why transformative change is urgently needed in the provision of child welfare.

Torn between hope, despair on child welfare

Op-ed by Alec Stratford, Chronicle Herald June 4, 2022

As Halifax’s government and police seek to evict residents of Meagher Park, also known as People’s Park, we want to remind our elected leaders once again that there is another way. It is possible to create public policy that can solve the underlying causes of poverty and homelessness, rather than criminalize the symptoms of a policy that has failed to actualize its stated electoral goals.

A challenging summer Blog post by N Siritsky July 12, 2022

8 Connection | Spring 2023

Nova Scotia has the highest percentage of gender diverse individuals in Canada. Despite this, our province has an abysmal and antiquated system, reflecting a discriminatory approach to health care – including GAC – that continues to fail to address the psychosocial determinants of health, and risks causing more harm than good.

Not yet time to celebrate; obstacles to genderaffirming care persist Blog post by N Siritsky July 28, 2022

Siritsky said changes like this need to be part of a larger shift in the delivery of mental health care in Nova Scotia to a collaborative and proactive approach to patient care.

The goal, Siritsky said, would be to prevent people struggling with mental health from ever having to go to the hospital in the first place.

Suicidal man got on QEII roof after long ER wait, mother says Josh Hoffman, CBC August 5, 2022

While there’s optimism about the creation of the commission, the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers has raised concerns about the language the province has used to describe child and youth advocates. … “Adversarialism is necessary to evoke social change,” [Alec Stratford] said. “There’s not been an incident in our history in which change has occurred where there hasn’t been some kind of adversarial approach to ensuring that government is accountable to the people that they serve.”

N.S. child and youth commission comes with ‘sense of relief,’ says advocate Josh Hoffmann, CBC March 29, 2022

The recommendations for more trauma-informed supports are a positive step, said Alec Stratford, the executive director of the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers. However, he said the review is treating the symptoms of a larger problem instead of looking at the root cause.

“What we often fail to focus on is that these acts, which are again predominantly impacting children and youth, are a reflection of the broader social inequalities that exist in our society,” Stratford said. He said he’d like to see more programming for youth that addresses mental health, healthy relationships and consent.

N.S. Department of Justice accepts recommendations on cyberbullying, online abuse Victoria Wellend, CBC September 7, 2022

Offering more community-based practice through non-profits and public services is more cost-effective, more accessible to a diverse range of service users, and better positioned to address issues of mental health inequity and the social conditions that play a significant role in the development of mental health struggles. These community-based services could have included advocacy and support (including financial, housing, and legal support); individual, family, and group counselling; support for daycare/ child or adult care; and transportation support. There is no investment here at all.

Budget 2022: unmet needs and mental health in Nova Scotia

Op-ed by Karn Nichols & Alec Stratford, Halifax Examiner March 30, 2022

Spring 2023 | Connection 9


New Private Practitioners, Registered

Social Workers & Social Worker Candidates

Approved by the NSCSW Board of Examiners Nov 2022 – Apr 2023


Serena Ali

Douglas Allen

Amanda Andrews

Nancy Baker

Sacha Curran

Rebecca D’Entremont Bishop

Jillian DeLorey

Emileigh Douglas

Natalie Edmondson

Mackenzie Ells

Kevin Fraser

Kelly-Lynn Isenor

Leah Iveh

Nathalie Jamieson

Crystal John

Celeste Lacombe-Nelson

Lori Lake

Lydia Mazzuto

Patricia Millette

Karis Mitchelle

Tanya Moss

Daria Pool

Kala Rafuse

Katie Simms

Danica Snow

Kali Spencer

Kristen Williams



Breah Ali

Robert Bartlett

Kyiaisha Benton

Nikhea Bernard

Rene Pierre Blanchette

Maureen Bornbaum

Alisha Bourque

Susan Branscombe

Dallas Bryan

Kaela Burchell

Carolyn Clark

Tyler Colbourne

Sharon Confidant

Emily Connell

Elizabeth Corkum

Brent Cosgrove

Brenda Coté

Natalie Edmondson

Gabriel Enxuga

Megan Flynn

Sarah Gavan

Frank Greenlaw

Karen Haag

Zachary Higgins

Laura Hoge

Megan Holloway

Emma Ingraham

Ashton Isnor

Leah Ivey

Jino James

Cassandra Jones

Mary Kallberg

Kelly Killbreath

Samantha King

Annie Knockwood

Allyssa Loiselle

Korinne Loomis

Emma MacDonald

Emilee MacDougall

Caitlynn Mace

Carrie MacInnis

Christie MacInnis

Madeline MacIntyre

Melissa Michaud

Amanda Mogridge

Celeste Nelson

Kathy Nichols

Abieyuwa Olowu

Donna Phillips

Emily Pipes

Daria Pool

Morgan Porter

Alisa Quinn

Siena Richard

Kendra Ritcey

Gabrielle Robichaud

Diane Robicheau

Cylia Robothata

Marla Russell

Kirenjeet Sandhu

Andrea Sereda

Melinda Taylor

Dwight Thompson

Terra Throndson

Danielle Tremblay

Angela Turnbull

Christina Van Kooten

Angela Wallace

Chun Yik Wong

Jane Wortman

Isaac Wright


Dillando Allotey

Christina Anstey

Lijo Antony

Supriya Arora

Ayokunle Babalola

KaSteva Benton

Jenna Bistekos

Jordan Bolzon

Carla Mae Bremen

Kaela Burchell

Beverly Burns

Bridget Carlson

Heather Chiasson

Stephanie Chicoine

Elaine Coventry

Kahlin Dinan

Mackenzie Dunlop

Melanie Easton

Jinu Francis

Amber Gallant

Sebastian Gaskarth

Jourdyn Gatza-Cormier

Emma Gaunt

Akusah Gbeve-Onyenike

Brandon Grant

Kaylyn Heine

Kristen Hogenbirk

Limina Jolly Chevookaran

Cassandra Jones

Bliss Jordan

Genu Mary Joseph

Bailee Keizer

Rebecca Kerr

Nahia Khoury

Danika Kulach

Shannon Laffin

Allyson Lutes

Gina MacKenzie

Sarah Mackinnon

Layne MacPhee

Allan MacQuarrie

Colleen Maynard

Marianne McTague

Chanelle Michaud

Jordain Murphy

Kristen Murphy

Samantha Murphy

Heidi Newell

Beatrice Nzigire

Aghogho Okundalaiye

Taylor Penzes

Michelle Poirier

Jill Prosper

Sanderica-Natasha Quesnel


Julia Quigley

Harris Robert

Joan Robinson

Kaitlin Russell

Robert Sanchez

Alanta Shaju

Edith Short

Michaela Smith

Samantha Thonhaugen-Good

Whitney Urquhart-Cameron

Anoop Vasu

Clara Whitman

Joseph-James Wilson

10 Connection | Fall 2019
Facebook.com/nscsw Twitter.com/nscsw NSCSW Blog: nscsw.org/category/blog Join the conversation



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 November 2022.

Ashley Avery

Kristen Basque

Hether Carrington

Ashley Corporon

Erin Cotie

Brian Crawford

Emileigh Doughlas

Alison Duarte

Denis Jonatan Dube

Jeremy Goodwin

Miranda Hall

Linden Hardie

Sandra Henneberry

Cassandra Hillier

Mary Holloway MacDonald

Linda Jensen

Jeff Karabanow

Laura Kennedy

Keith Lawlor

Nikki LeBlanc

Stephanie LeBlanc

Hazel Ling

Sondra McBride

Amanda McKiel

Lisa Messervey

Jodi Moore

Morgan Moore

Melissa Nowe

Stacey Paupin

Angela Peh

Sandra Pickrell

Jill Robertson

Valerie Shapiro


Emilie Smith

Robin Smith

Terri Lynn Smith

Maggie Stewart

Alec Stratford

Anna Tillett

Michelle Titus

Kelsey Turner

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 candidacy.nscsw.org/mentors

Spring 2023 | Connection 13


A report from the Connections Committee

Our committee underwent a leadership change this year, and we are deeply grateful to Rachel Smith, RSW, for all that she has done to advance our collective work.

Given the College’s commitment to social justice advocacy using a narrative strategy to reframe political debates into ethical imperatives to action, our work on Connection magazine has been an integral tool in the battle for justice and equity. Our magazine is sent to elected representatives across the province, and as such, it has been an important component of the College’s advocacy strategy.

We worked hard to develop a powerful issue on selfmedication, bringing together numerous voices and perspectives to highlight the ways in which our system’s current approach to mental health and addiction is lacking.

In particular, it illustrated the profound gaps in current policy and services, and the harm of our province’s lack of a traumainformed, low-barrier, culturally safe approaches to mental health and addiction that focus on harm reduction. This issue once again reflected our members’ diverse perspectives and served a critical role for amplifying our advocacy efforts. Some of the people and organizations we featured in this issue later became central participants in the social justice committee’s second annual Advocacy Day in March 2023.

The committee also entered into deep dialogue with members of the social work decolonization committee as we prepared for a powerful issue on the topic of decolonization and reconciliation. This work is foundational, and the creation of this issue will once again serve as an important vehicle for education and advocacy. In order to honour the month of June as National Indigenous History Month, this issue will be published in June.

We have also continued our work developing communities of practice, which has turned into a series of quarterly virtual gatherings. These offer opportunities for social workers to meet online over lunch and just talk – about their practice, their values, and their ambitions for the future. The idea behind this series is to create a safe space for social workers to connect amongst themselves and discuss issues of concern, share ideas and resources, brainstorm strategies for advocacy and be inspired and nourished by their colleagues. Given that most social workers are not connected to other social workers on a daily basis in their work activities or environments, this is an important strategy to foster engagement and build a cohesive network that will also help us to be more effective in mobilizing for future advocacy needs.

Finally, we grieved the passing of our former committee chair, Michelle Towill, RSW, who passed away in December 2022. In addition to serving as chair of this committee, Michelle was a long-time member of the social justice committee. Michelle had an undergraduate degree in English, and a love for stories. Her passion for writing was a gift for our committee, and her spirit is an abiding blessing to all of us who were blessed to work with her and learn from her.

Michelle was fiercely dedicated to social justice, working with individuals experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness, as well as those struggling with mental health challenges and addiction. She was deeply rooted in her own spirituality and never met a stranger- eagerly embracing new experiences, new people and new ideas. Her love for people and stories formed the basis of this committee’s expansion of its work, from Connection Magazine to building communities of connection through words and relationships. She will be missed, and we are grateful for the opportunity to honour her legacy with the work that we will continue to do at the college.


Rebecca Faria (staff), Bernadette Fraser, Michelle LeBrun, Christine Merrigan, Dermot Monaghan, Valence Parmar, Amy Pinnell, Annette Samson, Naj Siritsky (staff liaison), Rachel Smith (chair), Hannah Stewart, Michelle Towill

Spring 2023 | Connection 15


A report from the Social Justice Committee

This past year proved to be a pivotal year for the Social Justice Committee, under the leadership of Maggie Stewart, RSW. Our committee continued to grow, both in its membership and its accomplishments, as we sought to implement the recommendations of the Nova Scotia College of Social Work’s 2021 study: Repositioning Social Work Practice in Mental Health in Nova Scotia.

The Repositioning report highlights the multiple overlapping and intersecting problems affecting social workers in Nova Scotia’s mental health service sector. This report highlights that almost all of these social workers experience severe moral distress in their jobs, in part because of the way the system is designed and funded, and in part because of the lack of understanding amongst their colleagues, and the system as a whole, of what social workers actually do. This has formed the burning mandate for our committee to better support our members by advocating on their behalf and also to create tools and strategies to assist them in expressing their moral distress into concrete actions that can lead to a better tomorrow.

Since, the social justice committee has dedicated itself to implementing the recommendations of this report. We hosted a virtual mini-conference on October 14, 2022 where over 300 individuals registered to listen to Repositioning co-author Dr. Catrina Brown, RSW, present the findings of recent research that sought to compare the data from the original report with national data. Perhaps not surprisingly, her findings show that Nova Scotia is not unique in the significant moral distress social workers feel when forced to work in systems that neither understand nor support their efforts to advocate for their clients.

This year’s conference served as a rallying cry for our second annual Advocacy Day, which was hosted in collaboration with the Canadian Mental Health Association- Nova Scotia Division (CMHA-NS) and Shelter Nova Scotia. This served as a powerful affirmation of our allyship with those whom we serve through our social work activities. Rather than advocate on

behalf of others, we sought to amplify the voices of those with lived experience regarding our system’s current deficits when it comes care for those with mental health and addiction challenges, as well as those who lack the structural supports to wellness, such as housing.

Our committee recognized that our call for the integration of the psychosocial, spiritual and structural components of care into our medical system would only be effective if we joined together with others. In addition to bringing together individuals and organizations to represent the first voice perspective, we partnered with our colleagues from other disciplines who share our concerns and our moral distress.

Our second annual Advocacy Day powerfully featured the president of Doctors Nova Scotia, the president of the Nova Scotia College of Family Physicians, a psychiatrist, a nurse, a retiring family physician, public health researchers and a number of our colleagues from other disciplines. We also had two Indigenous Elders and a number of social workers and others coming together to share their concerns and their hopes. This conference was livestreamed and recorded, and is a powerful reminder that, even though we may often feel alone, we are not alone.

We are grateful that representatives from the Office of Addictions and Mental Health were present to listen and hear our concerns. We believe that Advocacy Day is a powerful platform for future collaborative efforts between all of us. The silos that divide us are colonial constructs that reflect a false distinction between mental health, physical health, social wellbeing and more.

16 Connection | Spring 2023
While this is in itself was a powerful comfort and inspiration, our committee understands that change is needed urgently.

Ultimately, the goal that we articulated in our conference is to work together to break down silos and build bridges. Our short term goal is increased funding and support for mental health services, so that we can shift from crisis to prevention in the ways we address mental health and addiction services. This goal cannot be separated from our broader goal, which is for the different silos in government to come together across departments to ensure that health care shifts from a biological-medical model of care to one that is personcentered, trauma-informed, community based and holistic.

From a systems theory perspective, if we want government to come together in service provision

it is essential that we, who are part of the system, model the change that we want to see by coming together across disciplines to advocate.

We advocate not only for our shared values, but for our shared vision of a more comprehensive health care system where mental health is not separated out, but rather integrated into the care that every person needs and deserves.

This will form the efforts of the committee over the coming year, as it seeks to continue this advocacy plan. The More than a Diagnosis campaign which was launched on March 24, 2023 was launched concurrently with a second intersectional project that our committee initiated with the Legal Information

Society of Nova Scotia (LISNS), which helped us to create a plain language advocacy toolkit called We have Power: A Guide to Engaging with your MLA and Using your Voice for Change. This growing resource is intended to not only help social workers amplify their own voice, but also those of the individuals and communities they serve.

The collaboration between the NSCSW and the LISNS reflects our committee’s vision for our College, and indeed, our profession: to continue to break down silos by partnering with those who share our values, as part of our larger commitment to social justice through decolonization and reconciliation. The We Have Power guide will continue to be developed over the course of the coming year, highlighting social workers and community advocates, in order to inspire more people to join us in our advocacy efforts.

Our committee dedicated the listening campaign portion of More than a Diagnosis to the memory of Michelle Towill, RSW, who passed away in December 2022. Michelle was a long time member of this committee, as well as a past chair of the connections committee. In addition to her work in developing our Big Ideas in Mental Health panels, Michelle helped to craft the vision that has blossomed into this conference and campaign.

Michelle was fiercely dedicated to social justice, working with individuals experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness, as well as those struggling with mental health challenges and addiction. In January 2023, many members of the committee gathered together at her Celebration of Life to grieve her passing. From this sadness emerged our commitment to transform our bereavement into a legacy of social justice and equity.

The committee hopes that this alchemy of grief into advocacy can inspire our members to support those with whom they work to do something similar, and the creation of the We Have Power toolkit seeks to model this therapeutic modality. While traditional counseling methods can be helpful short-term, this committee affirms that the most therapeutic way to help those who are depressed and anxious because of systemic issues is to join them in advocating for a better future for us all.


Cassie Shaw-Bishop, Jodi Butler, Megan Flynn, Chris Hessian, Phoebe Johnston, Prasanna Kariyawa, Emma Larson-Ure, Juanita Paris, Deb Philpitt, Adrianna Pilgrim, Janet Pothier, Dermot Monaghan, Colin James Morrison, Jim Morton, Mario Rolle, Naj Siritsky (staff liaison), Patricia Stephens-Brown, Emily Stewart, Maggie Stewart (chair), Michelle Toweill, Valerie White

Spring 2023 | Connection 17


A report from the Professional Development Committee

This past year, this committee transitioned from the wise and dedicated leadership of April Munro-Wood to the talented and complimentary leadership team of Tamsyn Brennan, RSW and Monica Boyd, SWC. We are grateful to April for her willingness to remain on the committee and provide insight and wisdom, while also stepping into a Council leadership role.

Our committee has grown quickly, and with new members comes new ideas and new enthusiasm for a new way forward.

This committee focused our efforts on a number of fronts: policy development and conference planning, as well as working to integrate our activities with the social justice committee and the decolonizing social work committee, and beginning to provide input on other professional development activities throughout the year such as the beginning of a book club.

We began our work by seeking to address new issues that emerged related to the new professional development policy that was enacted in 2022. In particular, the committee spent several months reaching out to social work colleges and associations across the globe to determine best practice regarding professional development reporting and auditing. The findings of this thorough investigation led to the creation of a policy for professional development selection and evaluation, which has been further fine-tuned thanks to member feedback and new learnings after our first year of renewals.

A central part of the committee’s mandate is the creation of an annual conference which this year is focused upon the Ethics of Allyship, in order to continue the rich dialogue and learning from last year’s conference, while also seeking to advance the College’s advocacy efforts. We sought new ways of allying ourselves with the College’s social justice committee; in addition to continuing the conversations began at their October 2022 mental health and social justice miniconference, and their annual Advocacy Day mini-conferences in March 2022 and 2023, we began meeting with them to cocreate future Big Ideas in Mental Health panels. These panels

will begin in June and will provide members with professional development learnings that will also advance the College’s social justice strategic vision.

We organized the 2023 annual conference to feature an excellent keynote speaker recommended by the decolonization committee, Dr. Raven Sinclair. The conference seeks to explore the ethical implications of allyship and address the committee’s concerns as to the ways its loose definitions can lead to performativity when it comes to being an ally. The decision to centre the conference upon the wisdom of Dr. Sinclair is a decision to model allyship in practice, and to be guided by Indigenous knowledge and ethics as a philosophical framework against which allyship can be critiqued and potentially transformed as an act of decolonisation.

Last but not least, 2023 has seen the beginning of a new series of professional development offerings, in alignment with the new standards. Through collaboration with the Dalhousie Equity Committee and other community allies, as evidence in its new joint series, the professional development committee is excited to try new ways of learning and unlearning, and welcomes all NSCSW members with a passion for education to reach out and join our efforts.

The conversations that the committee seeks to promote and facilitate are important conversations that it hopes will transform us all, as we embark upon a new era for our profession – one where we seek to decolonize ourselves, our profession and our world. We look forward to the coming year with gratitude and hope, as more and more of our members are reaching out to join us in these vital conversations.


Doug Allen, Dominic Boyd, Monica Boyd (co-chair), Tamsyn Brennan (co-chair), Jodi Butler, Kerri Fernandez, Robyn Jackman, Helen Luedee, Jennifer Lynn MacDonald, April Munro-Wood (outgoing chair), Rajesh Patel, Jessica Pelletier, Sandra Pickerell Baker, Debra Philpitt, Basem Samaan, Claire Sampson-MacDonald, Dani Sherwood, Naj Siritsky (staff liaison), Michelle Stonehouse, Joanne Sulman, Chana Wielinga

Spring 2023 | Connection 19

A report from the Professional Standards Committee TURNING A NEW LEAF

Our committee reformed in 2022, and has already undertaken a number of projects over the past year, thanks to the dedicated leadership of Erin McDonald, RSW and Lauren Matheson, SWC.

Committee members collaborated to write a blog post published on the NSCSW website, which highlighted the importance of our profession’s standards, and they began to reflect upon ways to further promote these principles for our members. Fundamentally, this committee’s role is to serve a preventative function, supporting members and addressing areas of potential concern in order to limit the number of complaints that might be lodged against a social worker as a result of a lack of clarity on their part.

The committee began to develop a set of guidelines regarding social work documentation. These guidelines were requested by a number of social workers and employers, and were very broad in their focus. The committee examined a number of contexts and issues, and in the process, was able to begin to chart the roadmap that it would need to follow moving forward. Additionally, the request for these guidelines and the consultations with diverse employers of social workers on this topic, provided the impetus for the development of an outreach and engagement strategy with social work employers that will continue into the coming year.

The committee also focused upon the development of an ethics consultation process, thanks to the hard work of social work practicum student, Amber Gallant, SWC, who reached out to social work regulatory bodies and professional associations across the globe to learn about the varied ethics consultation models in existence. This, in turn, formed the basis of the ethics consultation process that is now underway for the College to better support its members who may find themselves struggling with an ethical dilemma that they identify thanks to the College’s existing ethics consultation tool (ethical.nscsw.org).

Members of the committee were also invited to provide feedback and input on the CASW’s new code of ethics, which will more explicitly focus upon anti-racism and equity issues. The committee is eager to continue this process as the CASW continues its work in this area. The committee also recognizes that often, the moral distress and ethical concerns

that many social workers face are not actually driven by our profession’s code of ethics so much as they are related to larger systemic injustices and policies that are not aligned with our values.

As a result, members of the committee worked with Dr. Marika Warren, who oversees ethics consultation processes for the entire province’s health care organization, to begin to address this gap. The creation of a new professional development series of virtual ethics cafés offers opportunities for NSCSW members to reflect upon frequently posed ethical concerns, and to learn about ways to translate those concerns into internal advocacy, by calling for system ethics consultations.

In this way, social workers are able to gather a diverse group of health care professionals to consider the issue from multiple perspectives, and in so doing, to begin to reflect upon larger gaps in system policy and service delivery.

Finally, the professional standards committee is completing another series of guidelines, in response to the recent changes in divorce law, so that social workers can have some guidance when working with children and their families, during situations of divorce and separation. This guidelines, like the documentation guidelines, are undergoing final revisions and integrating the feedback of the NSCSW membership, and upon Council’s approval, will then be disseminated through educational workshops.


Debra Bourque, Jacqueline Duggan, Joline Comeau, Emily Crosby, Bernadette Fraser, Amber Gallant, Linden Hardie, Danielle Hodges, Calandra Kandziora, Stephanie LeBlanc, Terrence Lewis, Helen Luedee, Kimberley MacLean, Lauren Matheson (co-chair), Erin McDonald (co-chair), April MunroWood, Naj Siritsky (staff liaison), Angela Smith, Terri-Lynn Smith, Curtis Stevens, Joanna Thompson

20 Connection | Spring 2023


A report from the Decolonizing Social Work committee

We began our collaboration as a working group, and blossomed into a committee in 2022; co-chairs Jacklyn Paul and Crystal Hill, RSW, came together with Mi’kmaw social workers and community leaders to begin to reflect upon how to support and guide the NSCSW and its members in beginning the necessary labour toward reconciliation. While still in formation, this committee has begun to identify a number of issues that need to be addressed in order to begin to decolonize the profession of social work; these will inform the structure and work plan that we are developing.

Our profession has a unique responsibility to understand what was done and do what we can to work toward decolonization. In its statement of apology and commitment to reconciliation the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW)

acknowledges its role in supporting the implementation of residential schools, and in affirming the approach to child welfare that led to the 60s scoop through the promotion of discriminatory policies. The underlying motivation in the development of these policies was to dispossess Indigenous peoples from their land.

The CASW has apologized for contributing to the injustices imposed on Indigenous peoples and, in this statement, seeks to highlight some of the ways in which the professional bodies they represent were – and in many ways still are – responsible for the systemic denial and inequality that has been apparent in the field of social work. As such, it has begun to reach out to Indigenous communities across Canada, to partner with them in beginning the work of decolonization and reconciliation.

22 Connection | Spring 2023
From L to R: NSCSW’s Crystal Hill & Naj Siritsky with student Leurette Labobe at the Mi’kmaq Wolastoqiyik Association of Social Workers’ 2022 conference

The Nova Scotia College of Social Workers (NSCSW) joined with the CASW in this apology and continually affirms its commitment to do the necessary work called upon by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as well as that which has been clearly identified by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

In particular, the NSCSW acknowledges its role in the violent colonization of Indigenous communities through the ways in which social workers have worked on behalf of colonial systems to implement policies that have contributed to the destruction of Indigenous communities, and perpetuated the racist ideology implicit in those actions.

This recognition is done within a larger context where the NSCSW joins the CASW in re-examining our historical and continued role in colonization of Indigenous people and lands as part of our commitment to decolonize social work. We also continue working to address the multiple intersectional forms of racism, heteronormativity, prejudice and oppression that have accompanied the dominant lens of the colonizer and embedded themselves in policy and practice.

Specifically, the NSCSW council, committee and staff are committed to undertaking this journey toward decolonization. As stated in the CASW apology, acknowledging the truth is hard, but the work of reconciliation is harder.

This work requires that the paternalistic and racist foundations of our policies be rejected, and that new policies and guidelines be developed in partnership with Indigenous communities.


We are proud to have provided important input to several other NSCSW efforts, including other member committees. We offered the professional development committee our recommendation of the keynote speaker for our annual conference; Dr. Raven Sinclair will help our College begin to consider the ethics of allyship, and the ways that those of us from settler descent can join in the sacred work of decolonization and reconciliation. Members of this committee also consulted with the connections committee in its creation of a special June 2023 issue that will feature the decolonization of social work.

In 2022, we sent a cohort of committee members to the October conference of the Mi’kmaq Wolastoqiyik Association of Social Workers. This conference was powerful in many respects, as the committee members had an opportunity to meet in person and learn from many wonderful speakers, including keynote speaker, Dr. Michael Yellow Bird, who spoke about his ground-breaking work in neurodecolonization. The wisdom shared and conversations since have deeply informed the advocacy efforts of the social justice committee, and will continue to shape the College’s work as it moves forward.

We recognize that this committee is just in its infancy, and we are grateful for the support of Council to ensure that this committee has the resources it needs to continue the deep dialogue and discernment necessary to develop the next steps for the College, the profession and indeed, for Mi’kma’ki itself.


Gail Baikie, Kristen Basque, Craig Besaw, Suzanne Brooks, Robyn Hazard, Crystal Hill (co-chair), Leurette LaBobe, Michelle LeBrun, Jacklyn Paul (co-chair), Phillipa Pictou, Michelle Sutherland-Allan, Ann Sylliboy

Spring 2023 | Connection 23
It is in this spirit that we commit to embarking upon this journey. We are grateful for the input of Indigenous Elders, scholars and others who are guiding
ABOVE: Drumming circle at the Mi’kmaq Wolastoqiyik Association of Social Workers’ 2022 conference


A report from the Clinical Committee

The clinical committee’s work has been intertwined with the NSCSW’s efforts to re-position social work in Nova Scotia’s mental health and substance use services. This year our committee focused on building a framework to regulate clinical social work in private practice. The committee hopes to strengthen clinical social work practice by developing regulatory policy to ensure practitioners have the necessary tools to support their clients through a bio-psycho-socialspiritual model of care. This model recognizes the complexity of mental health needs and the importance of environment and social context in the healing process.The intent is that through a relational approach to therapy, both practitioner and client bring expert knowledge to the table, emphasizing shared responsibility for creating a connected and supportive society.

The committee worked to define a specific scope of practice in clinical social work that focuses on providing mental health and well-being assessments with a unique focus on the social determinants of mental health. This approach seeks to situate clients within their social context, considering factors like culture, race, and socioeconomic status. Using research

rooted in bio-psycho-social-spiritual approaches, the intent is for clinical social workers to build a culturally relevant, therapeutic environment. The scope of practice extends to individuals, couples, families, and groups, providing support for complex issues like mental health, addiction, trauma, grief/ loss/illness, and crisis.

Guided by broader concepts like human rights and social justice, clinical social work aims to ensure

that clients receive the care they need in a safe, uplifting environment.

The committee explored new pathways toward entry to practice as a clinical specialist. Draft policy indicates that applicants must possess a Master of Social Work degree where at least 12 academic course credits (including six graduate-level credits) are aligned with the clinical scope

24 Connection | Spring 2023

of practice. Coursework would need to demonstrate an understanding of the conceptual, historical, political, gendered, and societal factors that contribute to mental health and well-being. Alongside this essential knowledge, applicants should have completed coursework covering assessments for mental health, addiction, trauma, grief/ loss/illness, and crisis issues. Expertise in research-based modalities of service to support persons, families, and communities affected by these issues is vital. The practical knowledge gained from completing a practicum in a clinical setting providing direct service will set applicants apart.

Assessing knowledge is a crucial aspect of the registration process for applicants. The committee recognized that there are many pathways to learning and built a process where if you haven’t taken the course or haven’t completed all of its requirements, there is still an alternative. An applicant can demonstrate equivalency to the required academic courses through 432 hours of formal and informal training on the NSCSW registration portal. This process calculates the remaining hours needed for completion based on a ratio of course credits and professional development hours.

The Committee considered the use of the Association of Social Work Boards exam to assess competence. Based on our research, and the data that underlines discrimination based on race, the exam’s use seems ill-advised, particularly in light of calls for racial justice and the legacy of social work’s involvement in the genocide of Indigenous peoples. Moreover, the exam’s reliance on standardized testing has led to concerns about racial disparities and infringing individual charter rights. Finally, the lack of evidence supporting the exam’s validity further underscores the need for a different approach to ensure credibility and accountability.

A secondary assessment is still crucial to the assessment of clinical social work competence. So the committee proposed that being a specialized clinical social worker requires active participation in professional clinical supervision. It’s not just about attending meetings but engaging in a process of development. Professional clinical supervision assesses our abilities in different areas, ensuring we can perform at a satisfactory level. This kind of process is essential to building the skills, values, and knowledge necessary for specialization in clinical social work Engaging in this process allows us to grow and learn, becoming better equipped to help those in need.

The committee has proposed that applicants demonstrate 1800 hours of supervised practice experience in a clinical setting post-MSW to develop skills related to assessments, a relational approach, collaboration, a critical clinical perspective, and reflexivity. For those starting down this path, it’s important to note that Social Worker Candidates must first complete their

Candidacy Mentorship Program. The 1800 hours would also contain 24 hours of clinical social work supervision, receiving an assessment from a supervisor that demonstrates their skills, and creating a supervision plan to develop clinical abilities. Those who don’t meet supervision requirements may still be authorized to work in clinical practice settings with restrictions posted on their public profiles.

Finally the committee worked to create new clinical standards of practice. Clinical social work specialists possess a deep understanding of the emotional and social circumstances of the people they assist.

For such individuals, progress towards recovery relies heavily on the quality of the professional’s relationship with them, their proficiency in assessing and treating mental health conditions, and their ability to secure additional resources. Policy and organizational dynamics can also play a role, along with the quality of service or program available.

In summary, the NSCSW has proposed a revised approach to assessing clinical social work competence that takes into account both professional and individual needs. This includes requiring 1800 hours of supervised practice experience in a clinical setting post-MSW, 24 hours of clinical supervision, an assessment from their supervisor demonstrating skills, and adherence to new standards for practice. These measures are intended to provide individuals with greater access to quality care by ensuring specialists have the necessary expertise and resources available to support people on their journey towards recovery. The committee is confident these initiatives will help reduce barriers of entry while improving accountability within the profession so we can better serve those who rely on us most.


Lida Abdulrahman, Jacquelyn Allan, Kelly Breau, Catrina Brown, Patrick Daigle, James Dubé, Brandy Gryshik (co-chair), Robyn Hazard, Alex Hill, Jim Morton, Andrea Shaheen (co-chair), Alec Stratford (staff), Errin Williams

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The standards aim to support and guide to those facing mental health, addiction, trauma, grief, loss, or crisis issues to articulate what they can expect when they receive the services from a clinical specialist.


Workforce analysis

The Nova Scotia College of Social Workers is dedicated to working with the government and the not-for-profit sector to focus on changing our work environment to ensure recruitment and retention strategies are successful.

The data on the social work workforce in our province has revealed a clear trend: more and more social workers are leaving their traditional posts to pursue private practice (indicated by upward trend in private practice registrants and downward trend in RSW registrants), while those who remain in public service are taking longer periods of leave (indicated by associate class).

Given that 85% of social workers identify as women, and the age range is trending younger, it is important that workforce recruitment and retention strategies redesign the work world to be geared to the working caregiver. As working caregivers continue to shoulder the majority of childcare and home labour responsibilities, it’s important to recognize the burnout and inequity they face.

Evidence has pointed to a number of core policy changes that would include ensuring caregivers have control over their schedules, especially those who are working mothers. Offering flexible schedules is a great way to support caregivers who juggle their careers and families. On top of that, providing childcare options such as free on-site care gives caregivers peace of mind while at work.

Paid leave for illness or caregiving is an essential benefit that every employee deserves. Encouraging men to take paternity

leave not only promotes gender equality but also reduces any bias against women taking leave. By advocating publicly for caregivers and implementing parent-friendly policies, organizations can promote gender equality and show their support for working mothers, fathers and guardians.

It’s time to eliminate any anti-caregiver bias and focus on the work done instead of the time spent in the office. A strong re-entry approach, including mentoring and “returnships,” can make caregivers feel more secure about returning to work after a caregiving period.

The mental health of caregivers should also be prioritized, because it’s not easy balancing work and family; employers should consider workloads, time away, and mental well-being supports.

While solutions such as affordable childcare and support for fathers taking parental leave are known and are receiving some political attention, the lack of political and individual attention around the specific value and policy change required often intensifies the problem that caregivers face in the work world. It’s time to prioritize the needs of working caregivers and take action towards a more equitable future for all families.

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Proportion of Membership Classification

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2019 2020 2021 2022 2023

Social workers by region

28 Connection | Spring 2023 Age of social workers 2% Gen Z 15% Boomers 34% Gen X 49% Millennial
52 % 3 % 2 % 14 % 8 % 6 % 5 % 3 % 7 % Halifax 51.66% Cape Breton 14.29% Annapolis 7.5% North Shore 5.7% Colechester 5.27% South Shore 3.4% Fundy Shore 3.4% Cumberland 2.2% Out of Province 6.58%

New international applications by country

Social workers by designation

377 Private Practitioners

1,344 Registered Social Workers

155 Registered Social Workers (Telepractice)

450 Social Worker Candidates

119 Associates

40 Retired Associates

167 Students

2,652 Total

Spring 2023 | Connection 29
New applications by province*
excluding telepractice-only registrants with primary registration in another province

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.

Telepractice 155 members

Senator of Canada 1 member

Outside of Province 11 members

Indigenous Organization 17 members

Long-Term Care 24 members

Justice 28 members

Other Government 37 members

Nova Scotia HealthContinuing Care – 51 members

Post-secondary 25 members

Canada Armed Forces, Supports & Veterans Affairs – 34 members

DCS: Other 7 members

IWK: Community Mental Health & Addictions – 48 members

DCS: Disability Support Program – 63 members

School Social Worker 73 members Child Welfare - Mi’kmaw Family Services - 68 members

IWK: Other 42 members Community Not for Profit 113 members

Private Practice & Community Mental Health – 227 members

Other – 192 members

Nova Scotia Health: Other 193 members

Nova Scotia Health: Mental Health & Addictions – 321 members

DCS: Child Welfare 415 members

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32 NSCSW Annual Report | 2022 Contents 33 34 36 38 40 42 43 Your Council Strategy informed by social context Developing structured support Confidence & accountability Seed money Where your membership fees go Our budget Auditor’s report 44

Your Council

Executive Officers:

President: Lynn Brogan

Vice-President: Todd Leader

Treasurer: Kate Matheson

Secretary: Laurie Ehler

Past President : Ezra Wexler

To connect with the President of Council, please email: President@NSCSW.org

Board of Examiners:

Chair: Jack Landreville

Regional Representatives:

Northern: Crystal Hill, April Munro-Wood

Eastern: Catherine Kehoe, Maryam Mohseni

Central: Donna LeMoine, Jody Yurkowsky-Pace

Western: Iain Ford, Laura Rodriguez

Other Representatives:

CASW Board Member: Debbie Reimer

Dalhousie University School of Social Work Faculty: Judy MacDonald

Dalhousie University School of Social Work Student: vacant

Universite Sainte Anne Faculty: Veronique Brideau-Cormier

Universite Sainte Anne Student: vacant

Nova Scotia Association of Black Social Workers: Tanya McHarg

Indigenous Member: vacant

2022 | NSCSW Annual Report 33

Strategy informed by social context

A message from the NSCSW Council President

The Nova Scotia College of Social Workers (NSCSW) accomplished a great deal in 2022. Throughout the year, our organization has focused on key areas that are of utmost importance to the public and aligned with the values of our profession. One of our primary priorities has been to continue to develop our approach as a right-touch regulator looking at the problem from all angles first and then deciding how much regulation is necessary to get the job done. By building on a foundation of good regulation principles and adding a touch of agility, right-touch regulation ensures that risk to the public is minimized without compromising effectiveness.

Additionally, the NSCSW has continued our commitment to reconciliation and anti-racism, recognizing the important role social workers play in addressing systemic inequalities.

NSCSW has also been building a regulatory framework to strengthen clinical social work practice. Moreover, the organization has been active in advocacy for social justice, taking a stand against issues such as poverty, mental health, and child welfare. Through its various accomplishments, the NSCSW has demonstrated its dedication to making a positive impact on Nova Scotia.

In 2022, the College introduced a significant change to the professional development requirements for social workers. The aim of the new regulations was threefold: to provide clarity of expectations and support to social workers in their journey towards successful registration, to promote professional competency of registrants, and ultimately, to safeguard the public. These changes were grounded in the professional Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, aligned with accredited social work curricula, and consistent with Nova Scotia Regulated Health Professions Network recommendations. They reflect the most recent evidence-based research and developments in the field, ensuring that practitioners meet the highest standards of care and service.

34 NSCSW Annual Report | 2022

We were proud to work with our partners at the Canadian Association of Social Workers to continue to revise the national Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Ethical Practice. The last revision occurred in 2005, and much has changed during that time. It’s important to revisit these foundational documents, as much has changed in the last eighteen years. The social work Code of Ethics needs to reflect new understandings and knowledge. Furthermore, the new Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Ethical Practice will address social work’s special role in the journey of reconciliation with Indigenous people and communities recognizing our profession’s role in the genocide of Indigenous peoples in Canada. We are hopeful that the launch of the new Code of Ethics this year will lead to deeper reconciliation.

We continue to work with the Canadian Council of Social Work Regulators (CCSWR) to address pervasive and detrimental effects of racism in social work regulation, and are taking steps to address it head-on. Through collaboration with the Anti-Racist Regulatory Practice Framework Working Group, the CCSWR aims to critically reflect upon their policies and processes, and develop regulatory tools to dismantle systemic and structural racism in regulation and practice. Our goal is to create a regulatory framework to promote the elimination of biases and other barriers in regulatory policies and processes. This important initiative highlights the need to

critically reflect on how social work regulation can effectively address racism and ensure equitable access to services for all individuals.

Nova Scotia’s mental health and substance use services need a new approach, one that acknowledges the complexity of mental health needs and social context. That’s why the NSCSW is taking action to support the re-positioning of social work through a bio-psycho-socialspiritual model. The clinical committee has worked to create a framework for the regulation of clinical social work that aims to foster a relational process of healing, one in which both practitioner and client bring expert knowledge to the therapeutic conversation. By emphasizing shared responsibility for creating a connected and supportive society, the NSCSW hopes to advance policy and standards towards clinical regulation. With Phase 1 focused on defining the scope of clinical practice and articulating required knowledge and competencies for specialization in private practice, the NSCSW is committed to making a positive impact on mental health and substance use services.

Advocating for social policies that lead to social justice is crucial to advancing the public interest, creating a better future for children and families in Nova Scotia and core part of the NSCSW’s mandate. Through strategic partnerships with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Nova Scotia Action Coalition for Community Well-Being, we have achieved some important wins, and our message is resonating throughout the province. Social work is bringing hope for those feeling despair and a clear vision of

what could be. Poverty has a huge impact on childhood development, and family income is a major factor in dictating development. Access to supportive services is also crucial. If we want child and family well-being, we must invest in our kids and their families. This is one of our core advocacies goals, and we can’t afford to wait. Our children can’t wait.

I am incredibly proud of the work that our staff at NSCSW have done this past year in advocating for social policies, advancing mental health and substance use services, and revising the national Code of Ethics. We are committed to creating a better future for children and families in Nova Scotia through strategic partnerships with organizations dedicated to promoting justice and well-being. As President of NSCSW, I could not be more honored to serve the public interest by helping advance evidencebased policy solutions grounded in principles of equity, human rights, inclusion and respect. Our team is passionate about making a positive impact on communities across Nova Scotia. Together we will continue working towards a brighter tomorrow for all.

2022 | NSCSW Annual Report 35
Our team is passionate about making a positive impact on communities across Nova Scotia. Together we will continue working towards a brighter tomorrow for all.

Developing structured support A message from the Chair of the Board of Examiners

The Board of Examiners has been exceptionally busy this past year, with a surge of applications for private practice and the introduction of new tele-practice procedures. Despite this mounting workload, the Board is thrilled to announce that our College has achieved an impressive 85% compliance rate with the Candidacy Mentorship Program requirements. Our diligent staff and dedicated Board members have remained committed to upholding the standards of good regulation, as outlined by the Nova Scotia Regulated Health Professions Network. As experts in our field, we take pride in delivering services ensuring that applicants and professionals alike have a thorough understanding of the requirements and expectations of our profession.

The Board of Examiners is dedicated to recruiting new members who represent a diverse cross-section of social work practice.

Intersectional identities are at the forefront of our priorities, and we strive to ensure that members from a variety of cultural backgrounds and geographical regions are represented. Our goal is to make certain that all sectors of social work are reflected, including child welfare, mental health, medical social work, community sector, and private practice. This helps ensure that social work expertise is always available when decisions that impact public safety need to be made. We believe that our board represents the best of social work practice, and we are honoured to serve the public interest.

Electronic social work practice has become increasingly popular this year, especially in times where access to mental health care is hard to achieve. However, it’s important to note that these practices are regulated by the Social Workers Act and Regulations in Nova Scotia. Social workers from other parts of Canada who wish to engage in electronic social work practice with clients in Nova Scotia can now apply to NSCSW with a simple verification process and a reduced fee. This ensures that clients in Nova Scotia receive safe, ethical, and high-quality services from professionals who meet the standards set by the province. As social work continues to evolve, it’s important to keep in mind the regulations and guidelines that protect both clients and practitioners.

Three years ago, the NSCSW found itself in a difficult position with our candidacy standards. Compliance was under 50%, indicating a need for improvement. However, since then, we have made significant strides and are proud to say that we have achieved an impressive 85% compliance rate. This turnaround did not

We have continued to strive to bring transparent and objectively fair processes for registration and believe that these are essential to ensure the integrity of a profession.

happen by chance. We made it a priority to communicate with candidates and provide them with the necessary resources to help them begin their mentorship process, which is crucial to their professional growth as social workers. We are thrilled to see such a major improvement in compliance rates, and we look forward to continuing our efforts to engage our candidates.

The NSCSW’s implementation of the Nova Scotia Regulated Health Professions Network sets a high standard for good practice within healthcare profession regulation. Maintaining accurate public information about registrants, requirements, guidance, processes, and decisions is critical in ensuring transparency and accountability. We have made updates to our website and registry to ensure this. The importance of antiracism policy within regulation is also acknowledged, with efforts made to minimize any barriers faced by racialized applicants and the public. This year we continued the work on a framework for anti-racist regulation with the Canadian Council of Social Work Regulation. Consultation with stakeholders is valued as it helps identify and manage risks related to registrants, ensuring that client care and safety are always prioritized. We continue to engage with the community on core issues of social work practice, including child welfare, mental health and issues related to poverty. We have a commitment to reporting on performance and concerns and demonstrating good governance practices. We outline risks or decisions being made in our bi-weekly newsletter and blog, as well as this annual report.

By providing guidance and clarifying the professional development requirements this year, the board’s intention with this new policy is to see growth in quality practice amongst social workers, while ensuring that there were

enough professional development opportunities to meet the requirements. Overall, the standards set out by the NS Regulated Health Professions Network place a high value on accountability, transparency, and above all, the safety and care of clients. We have continued to strive to bring transparent and objectively fair processes for registration and believe that these are essential to ensure the integrity of a profession.

As a regulatory board, our top priority is ensuring the safety of the public. We understand that every applicant operates within a unique context, and therefore, we strive to apply minimum standards for safe practice in a way that is appropriate to their situation. Our approach to risk assessment is meticulous and thoughtful so that we can be sure to implement the right regulations based on the level of risk posed to the public. We believe in the principle of right-touch regulation – taking the time to fully understand the problem before jumping to a solution. In doing so, we ensure that the level of regulation is proportionate to the level of risk, and never excessive. We hold ourselves to the highest standards of good regulation, with the added element of agility to help us stay nimble and responsive to the ever-changing needs of our province.

The NSCSW’s commitment to the safety and care of clients has been unwavering. We have continued to strive for transparent, objectively fair processes for registration that ensure the integrity of a profession as well as minimum

standards for safe practice. With our approach to risk assessment being meticulous and thoughtful, we can implement regulations based on the level of risk posed while keeping right-touch regulation at heart. Our efforts this past year have led us towards achieving an impressive 85% compliance with the Candidacy Mentorship Program which is a testament to our dedication to providing guidance and support. Our focus on professional development with quality practice amongst social workers is always kept a top priority for the Board. We look forward to continuing these efforts into 2023 so that the NSCSW remains a leader in healthcare regulation.


NSCSW members: Dennis Adams, Afolake Awoyiga, Jaqi Allan, Lynn Cheek, Joline Comeau (outgoing), Jeff Karabanow (outgoing), Jey Benoit, Cassandra Hanrahan, Jack Landreville (chair), Angela Penny, Shireen Singer

Public appointees : Lianne Chang, Jason Cooke, Lisandra Naranjo Hernandez

2022 | NSCSW Annual Report 37

Confidence and accountability

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.

As a member of the Nova Scotia Regulated Health Professionals Network, the NSCSW has committed to use agreed upon standards of good regulation to guide our governance and operations (nsrhpn.ca/2021/03/standardsof-good-regulation-a-resource-for-networkmembers). These standards prioritize the core role of the NSCSW as a regulator of the social work profession. The NSCSW achieves this role by regulating the practice of social work, in part, through our 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 that is within the College’s jurisdiction. The complaints made each year vary in complexity. Some are simple to resolve, while others have more complex issues such as fitness-to-practice issues, documentation practices, 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.

We also had some changes to our committee this year and we bid farewell to our former member Joline Comeau, who was the committee chair for 6 years.


Dennis Adams, Jack Landreville, Lisandra Naranjo Hernandez (public appointed member), Ogochukwu Okechukwu (staff), Angela Penney, Valerie Shapiro (staff liaison)

The number of complaints received and processed by this committee remain high. In 2022, 28 new complaints were made (up from 21 in 2021), and 6 were carried over from 2021, totaling 34 matters (1 less than the prior year). Of the 34 open 2022 complaint matters processed, 20 were closed and 14 were carried over into 2023.

The complaints committee rendered 20 final decisions.

A look at 2022 Complaints


22 Clients




Healthcare (IWK and NSH) Private Practice Community Organizations



1 Withdrawn


4 Employers Third Party

2 Registrar

2022 | NSCSW Annual Report 39
0 Letters of Counsel Discipline Committee Decision Action Dismissals
Reprimand by Consent
18 Child welfare

Seed money A report from the NSCSW Council Treasurer


Spring is budget season, and the Nova Scotia government has no more money for social assistance this year. Despite the increasing cost of living, including ever-climbing grocery prices, Nova Scotians receiving provincial assistance are being “targeted” for support with benefits for specific causes such as rent and the cost of raising children. Rather than supporting Nova Scotians to live with dignity and decide for themselves where they most need to spend, Premier Tim Houston claims his government is “supporting people in the ways that we think we can best support them.”

In their 2022 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA-NS) details how government transfers can directly affect those living in poverty, provide money to feed people, and combat the growing price of food and other aspects of living – NSCSW and our policy partner CCPA-NS recommend substantial increases to income assistance.

There is much to be hopeful about, as Nova Scotians are resilient and tenacious. We call for our provincial government to make the kind of substantial investment in people that is required to pull us out from shameful levels of poverty and destitution. We’ve been doing more with less for a long time; let’s do even more with more investment.


This past year we have used our resources to realize our mission of protecting the public and supporting social workers in their professional practice. We are so fortunate and appreciative of our dedicated staff and volunteers who seamlessly integrate our strategic goals and vision through their day to day work, producing excellent results.

Due to a modest fee increase, some advertising revenue, and a new policy requiring out-ofprovince telepractice registration, our revenue increased substantially. As has been the trend over the past few years, licensing and application revenues came in above projected and this has placed us with $80,000 more income than expected.

The usual diligence and accountability of College staff have kept our expenses on track for this past year. The trend of high rates of complaints continues, however the College was able to spend less on legal fees as our complaints committee and College staff become more knowledgeable about the intricacies of this difficult process.

We are all experiencing the frustrations of rising costs and our College expenses are likewise subject to increasing costs. Insurance and bookkeeping are just two of the services we require which have increased in price. College staff continue to find creative and responsible ways to manage our finances and get the best service for our money. Our commitment to investing in the people who make our College run makes this creativity possible.

40 NSCSW Annual Report | 2022

We will institute a 1% increase on membership fees for 2023. These small, annual increases provide the College with the resources necessary to address increasing costs for services and other business and support the College with realizing our purpose. Surplus monies are allocated to special projects which fulfill our mandate of protecting the public. Advocating with our clients in the health, child welfare, and correctional systems is an essential aspect of our role and is meant to amplify your voices as you advocate for your clients directly in the work that you do.


Revenues are projected to be more than $1 million again this year. We remain committed to dispersing and stewarding these funds with utmost care.

As mentioned, costs are rising and we have prepared a budget that is responsive to those increases. We will continue to invest in decent salary and benefit packages for staff and are proud to continue to bring on more staff as the work of the College grows.

For the first time in three years we will see our staff out on the road and travel costs have been adjusted accordingly.

We have committed to compensating expertise that we rely upon for the business of the College, such as we have in the past few years for the complaints committee, so 2023 will see the introduction of a spending category for our decolonizing social work committee as

Our partners at the Canadian Association of Social Workers have increased membership fees; we are prepared to cover that increase as they are such an invaluable resource for our members, both to stay connected to the profession of social work in other jurisdictions and also the continuing education opportunities for our members.

We are proposing a $5200 surplus for 2024, and with Council consideration and approval we will continue to allocate that surplus to special projects for essential advocacy work.

Due to responsible management, we have a surplus of $84,000 for 2022, which will be allocated to our special projects, as usual. We have for another year maintained the balance required by our governance policies in both the operational fund at $639,346 and the discipline fund at $219,121.


Seguin, N. (2023, March 24). N.S. Budget doesn’t raise income assistance rates, shocks anti-poverty advocates | CBC News. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ nova-scotia/ns-income-assistance-ratesunchanged-1.6788662

Our total assets as of December 31, 2022, were $1,776,662

We are so fortunate and appreciative of our dedicated staff and volunteers who seamlessly integrate our strategic goals and vision through their day to day work, producing excellent results.

Where your membership fees go

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 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.


Global Budget

2022 | NSCSW Annual Report 43

Independent Auditor’s Report

To the members of Nova Scotia College of Social Workers

Qualified 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, 2022 and the statements of operating revenues 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, 2022 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 Qualified 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 $8,540 (2021$11,387), amortization for the current year would have been $2,135 (2021 - $2,846) and the closing balance of the operating fund would have been $100,004 (2021 - $14,793). Our audit opinion on the financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2021 was modified accordingly because of the possible effects of this limitation of scope.

We conducted our audit in accordance with Canadian generally accepted auditing standards. Our responsibilities under those standards are further described in the Auditor’s Responsibilities for the Audit of the Financial Statements section of our report. We are independent of the College in accordance with ethical requirements that are relevant to our audit of the financial statements in Canada, and we have fulfilled our other ethical responsibilities in accordance with these requirements. We believe that the audit evidence we have obtained is sufficient and appropriate to provide a basis for our qualified audit opinion.

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:

• 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 College’s internal control.

• Evaluate the appropriateness of accounting policies used and the reasonableness of accounting estimates and related disclosures made by management.

• Conclude 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.

• Evaluate 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


2022 | NSCSW Annual Report 45

Statement of Operating Revenue & Expenses


46 NSCSW Annual Report | 2022

Statement of Fund Balances


2022 | NSCSW Annual Report 47

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