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ONTARIO 🧑🔎 BETTER PROTECTION FOR VULNERABLE ONTARIANS: Key Changes to the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers' Legislation Approved 🛠⚕️

Friday, 14 June 2024 12:00.PM

The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW) is pleased to announce that proposed changes to our governing legislation, the Social Work and Social Service Work Act, 1998 (the SWSSWA) have been passed. These amendments – which will come into force as of July 1, 2024 – build on the OCSWSSW and the government's shared goals of strong oversight to provide the best possible and safe environments for the most vulnerable Ontarians.

The OCSWSSW currently regulates over 29,000 social workers and social service workers, the largest group of regulated mental health professionals in the province. Our role is to ensure that the public is supported by, and receives care from professional, ethical, qualified social workers and social service workers who are accountable to the OCSWSSW.

Aligning the OCSWSSW with other provincial health regulators

The amendments relate specifically to section 50 of our governing legislation, regarding confidentiality, which will better align the OCSWSSW with other health regulators in the province. These amendments will allow the OCSWSSW to collaborate and share essential information regarding ongoing investigations about a registrant with other regulatory bodies and agencies, with the ultimate goal of keeping the public safe.

As of July 1, 2024, if a registrant is under investigation for serious professional misconduct, such as allegations of sexual abuse, the OCSWSSW will be able to share this vital information with relevant parties, such as a children's aid society.

"In partnership with the government, it was clear that legislative changes were needed in order to provide the strongest possible oversight to keep Ontarians safe," said OCSWSSW Registrar & CEO Denitha Breau. "We have been working collaboratively with the government to implement these changes which will allow us to partner effectively with those agencies involved to enhance protections and improve care for our province's most vulnerable people."

Working with regulated professionals – what Ontarians need to know

Only practitioners registered with the OCSWSSW are allowed to call themselves a "social worker" or "social service worker." As part of its role in safeguarding Ontarians, the OCSWSSW maintains an Online Register, which provides key information to help support individuals with accessing a social worker or social service worker. This online tool lists all registrants, their registration status, employment information and discipline history, if any, as well as other relevant information.

Ontarians working with, or who plan to work with, a mental health practitioner should always check the Online Register to ensure the practitioner is registered and accountable to the OCSWSSW.

Questions or concerns about a mental health practitioner

As the provincial regulator of the largest group of mental health practitioners in Ontario, the OCSWSSW investigates reports and complaints about suspected misconduct of social workers and social service workers. All information received about the conduct of registrants is assessed with public protection at the forefront. To learn more about the complaints process or to file a complaint, visit the OCSWSSW website.

"All Ontarians deserve the best support from regulated mental health professionals as they work to improve and sustain their mental wellbeing," said Breau. "Updating our legislation is an exciting development and a vital step toward providing the strongest possible protections for everyone, especially the province's most vulnerable populations."

SOURCE: Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Services Workers

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