Letter sent to the Toronto Sun in response to an article titled "Social Workers failing Toronto's homeless " – since edited to read "Welfare Workers failing Toronto's Homeless":
I'm writing to you on behalf of the Ontario Association of Social Work and our 5200 members.
We applaud your desire to shine a light on public interest stories including your recent article: "Social Workers failing Toronto's homeless", followed by the subsequent editorial on Toronto's response and offers to assist.
At the same time, we believe, and trust you agree that editorial, including that which looks at issues with a critical lens, is that much more valuable to the reader when accurate.
This article is unfortunately misleading and does a disservice to social workers. To be called a “Social Worker” in Ontario, individuals must hold a Bachelors’, Masters’ or PhD in Social Work and be registered with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW). A Register listing “Registered Social Workers”/“Social Worker” is available on OCSWSSW’s website. These are protected titles under provincial legislation since passage of the Social Work and Social Service Work Act, 1998. It is unlikely that the caseworkers you are describing at Toronto Employment and Social Services (TESS) are social workers.
In the recent months, our association has been working to connect the very real issues the public face with the unique training and resources social workers can offer. Our hope is that we can and will continue to offer these invaluable services benefiting the public.
We appreciate the opportunity to continue to share with you more on the positive impact we are having on an individual and larger scale public level.
Joan MacKenzie Davies, MSW, RSW
CEO, Ontario Association of Social Workers