Committees & Advisory Groups

OASW achieves a great deal of its initiatives through the work of committees and advisory groups.

Budget, Finance and Audit Committee

The purpose of the Budget, Finance and Audit Committee is to oversee all aspects of financial planning and financial management of the Association.

Its responsibilities are to: 

  • Develop and apply appropriate policies and procedures for preparation of the annual budget of the Association.
  • Recommend an annual budget for the Association to the Board of Directors for approval at their last meeting before the fiscal year.
  • Recommend policies and procedures for financial management to the Board of Directors for approval.
  • Recommend a long-range (3 to 5 years) financial plan to the Board for approval.
  • Review the approved long-range financial plan annually and recommend amendments to the Board as necessary.
  • Liaise with the Branch Treasurers through the Treasurer regarding financial matters.
  • Review quarterly statements and monitor ongoing financial standing. 

Committee Members
Rashaad Vahed, Treasurer-Secretary, Chair (Central Ontario Branch)
Joan MacKenzie Davies, OASW Executive Director (Central Ontario Branch
Patrick Fleming (Western Branch)
Amrit Khaper, Accountant (Central Ontario Branch)
Fay Lim-Lambie (Central Ontario Branch)
Anne Sawarna (Western Branch)

Executive Committee
The Executive Committee is composed of the Officers of the Association.

What do they do?

OASW Officers
Dr. Keith Adamson, President, Chair (Hamilton Branch)
Cathy Farrell, Vice-President, Branch Affairs (Northwestern Branch)
Dr. Ellen Sue Mesbur, Vice-President, Social and Professional Advocacy (Central Ontario Branch)
Rashaad Vahed, Treasurer-Secretary, Chair (Central Ontario Branch)

Government Relations
The purpose of the Government Relations Advisory Committee is to influence social policy formulation and decision-making, identified by OASW, related to government legislation, policy and programming that impact on social workers and the client groups the profession serves; and to affirm our profession's role with stakeholders and the public provincially. 

The Committee's objectives are:
  • To advise the Association on strategies and tactics necessary to influence the direction and course of social policy in Ontario.
  • To facilitate the development of key messages, in concert with the Association's public relations strategy, that distinguish social workers and OASW from other groups and that specify desired practical outcomes.
  • To consult with and involve the branches and major stakeholders within the profession regarding the development of key messages, the public image of our profession, desired outcomes and related positions.
  • To promulgate these messages in a strategic way that maximizes the use of limited resources.
  • To work with senior staff within the Association to communicate key social work priorities and positions to the public (e.g., through letters to the newspapers, media releases, press conferences, etc.).
  • To monitor and review the effectiveness of the government relations strategies and tactics annually as part of the OASW Strategic Plan. 

Committee Members
Dr. Dan Andreae, Chair (Central Ontario Branch)
Kate Power, (Hamilton Branch)
Mary Kaye Lucier (Southwestern Branch)
Bonnie Schroeder, Eastern Regional Director (Eastern Branch)
John Ellis, Expert Member/Family Service Ontario (Central Ontario Branch)
Joan MacKenzie Davies, OASW Executive Director (Central Ontario Branch)
Gillian McCloskey, OASW Associate Executive Director (Central Ontario Branch)

Committee Activities/Initiatives
Established in 2001, OASW Government Relations Advisory Committee provides leadership for government relations, which is a key priority of the Association since many activities and practices from clinical functions, to crucial funding to policy decisions affecting clients and social workers, are determined by government. Over the past year, as part of OASW's Strategic Goal to ensure that social work interests with government are clearly articulated, advanced and protected, the Association has continued to work closely with Policy Concepts, an established and reputable firm with expertise in government relations. 

Peter Regenstreif, a government relations consultant with Policy Concepts (until his retirement in May 2012), has assisted us in navigating the complex political landscape within which public and social policy is currently formulated, and helped us influence decision-making related to policy and regulations. As you will recall, Policy Concepts played an indispensable role in OASW's successful lobbying efforts to have the Psychotherapy Act, 2007 (Bill 171) amended to include social work as one of the five existing regulated professions qualified to perform this controlled act. Megan Archer has since replaced Peter at Policy Concepts. 

OASW's Government Relations Advisory Committee has developed and implemented a broadly based government relations strategy to raise the profession's profile and advance the profession's interests. OASW's Government Relations Strategy aims to: 

  • Strengthen relationships with key ministries that fund services and/or oversee social work practice to ensure that Ministers and their staff understand our profession's perspective and concerns related to significant practice and policy issues.
  • Build relationships with MPPs to increase their understanding and support for the valuable services that social workers provide, and offer tools to enable OASW members to do so as well.
  • Work with government to remove barriers to practice that stem from unintended restrictions in existing and/or proposed legislation, regulations and programs.
  • Promote equitable treatment and access to services for social work clients.
  • Ensure that social workers are recognized as having equal status to members of other regulated professions. 

In collaborative efforts with Policy Concepts, OASW has made significant progress in shaping and communicating our message to government as we proactively advance the interests and concerns of the profession related to professional practice and social justice concerns. To this end, a number of documents and materials have been developed: 

  • to articulate the profession's role related to poverty reduction;
  • to outline overarching concerns about the under-utilization of social workers due to barriers created by legislation, regulations and programs that solely recognize professions regulated under theRegulated Health Professions Act(RHPA);and
  • to identify short- and long-term "asks" of government. These "asks" relate to the ability to certify OCF-18 Treatment Forms under theInsurance Act; access to funding for continuing education in the Allied Health Professional Development Fund; and coverage of transportation costs for Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) recipients when they have appointments with social workers. 

Lobbying as an association and jointly with existing regulated professions allowed to perform the controlled act of psychotherapy have resulted in inclusion of a regulation which will extend the title "Psychotherapist" to social workers and members of the other existing regulated professions referenced in the Psychotherapy Act, 2007

Additional accomplishments in recent years include:

  • gaining access to the use of the title "Doctor" for Registered Social Workers with an earned doctorate in social work, when providing health care services; and
  • recognition of RSWs as "medical practitioners" in the Income Tax Act, allowing members of the public to claim social work services as a medical tax deduction on income tax returns. 

In meetings with the Minister of Community and Social Services (MCSS) and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) and their political as well as senior policy staff, OASW has strongly advocated for the development of a mechanism to remove existing silos between the two ministries that have posed barriers to social work practice. Constructive working relations are being forged with both ministries, particularly with the Minister of Community and Social Services, Madeleine Meilleur, and her senior policy staff. 

As part of OASW's Government Relations Strategy, OASW continues to participate in a number of government consultations.

Regular updates on the progress of key government relations initiatives are provided to Association members through the Provincial E-Bulletin, Social Work Now 
and the news section of this website. 

Health Care Advisory Group

The purpose of the Health Care Advisory Group is to provide leadership and advice to OASW in order to promote and enhance the role of social work in the health care sector in the areas of policy, practice, research, education and advocacy.

Its objectives include:
  • To identify, prioritize and advise OASW on concrete ways to address health care issues that cut cross practice settings and impact on practice, giving particular attention to issues of access by vulnerable and marginalized populations.
  • To ensure that health care issues are considered and articulated within the broader context of the social determinants of health.
  • To monitor and advise OASW on ways to respond to proposed and existing legislation and/or regulations impacting on social work practice in health care.
  • To monitor, respond and advise OASW on trends in the broader health care sector that have the potential to impact social work practice, employment and/or professional opportunities.
  • To develop strategies to increase the availability and access to health care services based upon consultation with other stakeholders.
  • To ensure that issues of diversity are considered throughout the work that the OASW Advisory Task Group does.  

Committee Members
Patrick Clifford (Western Branch)
Joan MacKenzie Davies, OASW Executive Director (Central Ontario Branch)
Leslie Eckel, Expert Member (Midwestern Branch)
Heather Maxwell (Western Branch)
Gillian McCloskey, OASW Associate Executive Director (Central Ontario Branch)

Committee Initiatives
The Health Care Advisory Group continues to monitor changes in the funding and delivery of social work services within hospitals and community-based health care services. This information has been used to inform advocacy positions taken by the Association on health care issues, particularly as they relate to the provision of social work services and emerging roles for social workers. OASW participated in the consultation with the MOHLTC Lead for Ontario Seniors Strategy, at which time we promoted the role of social workers in providing services to the frail elderly and their caregivers, especially as members of inter-professional teams in the "House Calls" initiative. Additional activities included: updating OASW's 2005 role statement for social workers working in hospital-based services and the 2005 role statement for social workers working in primary health care. The latter role statement is also being expanded from its current focus on Family Health Teams to encompass Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinics and Community Health Centres.

Nominating Committee
The Nominating Committee is mandated in the Association's bylaws to call for nominations for Executive Officers and to oversee the election process.

The Nominating Committee has recently expanded its role providing recommendations for awards, committee membership, as well as identifying gaps and reaching out to under-represented groups and communities.

The Nominating Committee is reappointed annually following the Annual General Meeting as set out by Association bylaws.

Committee Members
Dr. Ellen Sue Mesbur, Chair (Central Ontario Branch)
Sharon Evans (Mid-Western Branch)
Cathy Farrell, Vice-President, Branch Affairs (Northwestern Branch)
Martine Surprenant, Francophone Director (Eastern Branch)
Evelyn Weger (Eastern Branch)
Joan MacKenzie Davies, OASW Executive Director (Central Ontario Branch)

School Social Work Committee
The purpose of the School Social Work Committee is to develop, promote and advocate for the practice of school social work in Ontario.

Its goals are:
  • To monitor proposed changes in legislation relevant to school social work and make input.
  • To advise the Board on professional practice guidelines and issues pertinent to school social work.
  • To establish and maintain communication with OASW members involved in school social work.
  • To liaise with:
    • other OASW committees
    • the Ministry of Education, and other relevant ministries and government bodies
    • oother organizations in the field of education
  • To systematically collect, organize and publish information and professional literature on school social work.
  • To inform the public about developments in school social work.
  • To deal with current policy and service issues which have an impact on the educational setting.
  • To monitor regularly and evaluate annually the accomplishments of the above goals. 

Committee Members (2016-2017)
Sylvére Baransegeta, TS (Central Ontario Branch)
Gabriella D’Ambrosio, Co-Chair (Hamilton Branch)
Jacqueline Davis, Chief Representative (Hamilton Branch)
Carmela Diano (Central Ontario Branch)
Todd Elliott (Central Ontario Branch)
Andréanne Fleck Saito, Ministry Representative (Central Ontario Branch)
Kristi Gordon (Hamilton Branch)
Tracey Grose, Secretary (Durham/Kawartha Branch)
Miguel Guayasamin, Co-Chair (Hamilton Branch)
Saleem Haniff, Communications (Central Ontario Branch)
Gillian McCloskey, OASW Liaison (Central Ontario Branch)
Nancy McHardy (Central Ontario Branch)
Sue Nicolson, Treasurer (Western Branch)
Veronique Ribeiro (Midwestern Branch)
Monika Sudds (Central Ontario Branch) 

Student Award Initiative
In 2004, the OASW Board of Directors launched the Student Award Initiative charged with establishing a Student Award to fulfill the following goals:
  • to encourage students to consider and enter the profession of social work;
  • to support motivation to strive for academic achievement by providing financial assistance;
  • to encourage students' identification with the profession; and
  • to demonstrate OASW's commitment to provide a range of benefits and services
  • to students, thus highlighting the value of Association membership and potentially leading to a long-term investment in the goals and objectives of the professional membership association.

The purpose of the Student Award Initiative is to establish a fund that will build over time and enable OASW to grant an annual award to one or more Student Members, and to encourage social workers and those in the broader community to contribute to this initiative on a one-time or ongoing basis.

The Student Award Initiative objectives are:

  • to communicate the value of an OASW Student Award to OASW members and the broader social work community;
  • to identify and research fund-raising and administration mechanisms;
  • to develop and implement a marketing strategy to promote the scholarship to students and schools of social work and to recognize the successful candidates;
  • to establish and implement an application procedure based on set criteria for selection of student scholarship recipient(s); and
  • to evaluate the process of this initiative in the short- and long-term. 

Committee Members  
Anne Sawarna, Chair (Western Branch)
Jan Devereux, Adviser
Gillian McCloskey, OASW Associate Executive Director (Central Ontario Branch)
Daniel Pugh, Student Director (Central Ontario Branch)