Consultations & Statements

OASW Submission on Ontario’s New Poverty Reduction Strategy

April 2020
During these unprecedented times, OASW remains committed to focusing on key policy issues important to members and the clients we serve. Recent events surrounding COVID-19 have shone a spotlight on gaps in our federal and provincial social safety nets, leaving those in poverty most vulnerable to the pandemic and the negative impacts of this on our economy. At the same time, the pandemic has taught us that all Ontarians, regardless of occupation or income, can be at risk of financial hardship when things go wrong.

It is through this lens that OASW provides recommendations for Ontario’s new Poverty Reduction Strategy under the following three pillars:

  1. Strengthening income and employment supports;
  2. Providing access to supportive and affordable housing, and;
  3. Improving access to mental health and addiction services to meet current and future needs.
Read our full submission to the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, April 2020 below:

OASW Submission on Ontario's New Poverty Reduction Strategy 

Release of the First Report from the Premier's Council on Improving Healthcare and Ending Hallway Medicine

Original Press Release January 31, 2019 through CNW

"We applaud the Premier's Council for its first report, which identifies the barriers within Ontario's health care system that lead to hallway health care and stand in the way of people getting the care they need," said Joan MacKenzie Davies, CEO, OASW. " We concur with the Council that patients and families are having difficulties navigating the health care system and are waiting too long for care.  This is a problem that can and must be addressed."

Social workers play a vital role in assisting patients and their caregivers to access the right care, at the right time and in the right place.  They are unique among health care professionals because they are trained to consider a person within the context of their families, workplaces and communities, as well as the connection between personal problems and the impact those problems can have on a patient's complex needs.  This training has a direct impact on reducing hallway health care.

The report identified that Ontarians often turn to Emergency Departments for help with mental health and addictions issues that could have been more quickly and appropriately dealt with through primary care or community mental health and addictions services.  Social workers can help address this challenge. A recent study demonstrated that by placing social workers in Emergency Departments of high volume hospitals during peak hours, they were able to identify and re-direct those with non-urgent care needs, particularly those living with mental health and addictions concerns, to more appropriate services in the community. This resulted in an estimated 1,700 inpatient days avoided and $1.4 million in annual cost savings across two hospital sites and most importantly, improved patient care.

"Through innovative solutions such as the placement of social workers in Emergency Departments, social workers can have a direct impact on reducing hallway health care," concluded MacKenzie Davies. "Ontario's social workers look forward to working with both the Premier's Council and the government, as they identify ways to improve and better integrate the health and community care systems for Ontario patients."

OASW is a voluntary, bilingual, non-profit association representing approximately 7250 social workers. All members have a university degree in social work at the bachelor, master or doctoral level. OASW works to actively speak on behalf of social workers on issues of interest to the profession and advocates for the improvement of social policies and programs directly affecting social work practice and client groups served.

OASW Mental Health Recommendations

January 9, 2019

The Government of Ontario has committed $1.9 billion to support the mental health of Ontarians over the next 10 years. This is in addition to $1.9 billion in federal funding to do the same. In January, 2019, OASW submitted recommendations to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services and the Office of the Premier for use of these funds.

Our recommendations included:

  1. Implementing a publicly funded, structured psychotherapy program provided by social workers and other non-physicians;
  2. Placing social workers in all hospital EDs to prevent unnecessary, and avoidable mental health admissions;
  3. Providing funding to school boards to hire more School Social Workers to improve the mental health of children and youth; and
  4. Creating 30,000 units of supportive housing for vulnerable populations over the next 10 years and increase funding for the provision of consistent, wrap-around supports attached to these units.
OASW participates regularly in government and stakeholder consultations to ensure that the profession of social work and the clients we serve are represented in major policy decisions.

OASW Responds to Newly Announced Social Assistance Plan

November 22, 2018
While further increases in social assistance rates remain an essential part of helping break the cycle of poverty, OASW supports several new initiatives announced today by Minister MacLeod.