OASW Historic Achievements - Legislation, Regulation & Programs

OASW's major roles:
Comment on public policies that affect clients whom social workers serve;
Increasing public awareness on the important role played by the profession related to service delivery.

Social Advocacy Major Focus:
Poverty reduction;
Human rights and the needs of under-served or at-risk populations.

Professional Advocacy Major Focus:
Advocating on behalf of the profession regarding a wide array of professional practice and employment issues such as government legislation, regulations, policies/programs and organizational policies that potentially infringe on social work's scope of practice. With looming human resource shortages in many other professions, OASW highlights the valuable services social workers provide, under-utilization of our skills, and cost-effectiveness of using social work services.

OASW Providing Leadership for Social Workers in Ontario Historic Achievements - Legislation, Regulations & Programs

In the past two decades, leadership spearheaded by OASW and funded through membership fees, resulted in the following historic achievements: 
  • Ontario College of Certified Social Workers (OCCSW) - was established by the Association as a voluntary regulatory body in mid-1980's, as a first step to obtaining regulation under provincial legislation. In the early 1990's, the Association and OCCSW formally separated to signal an arms-length relationship between the professional association and the College and to mirror the existing provincial model of regulation.     
  • Substitute Decisions Act, 1992 - successfully lobbying led to the inclusion of social workers in regulations under this Act. 
  • Health Care Consent Act, 1996- successfully lobbying led to the inclusion of social workers in regulations under this Act. 
  • Social Work and Social Service Work Act, 1998 - persistent advocacy over two decades resulted in regulation of the profession. 
  • Excise Act - in 2006, changes were made that exempted clinical social work services from what was then the GST and is now known as the HST. This change came about as the result of successfully lobbying by OASW and sister social work associations in other provinces. The intent of the exemption was to create a more even playing field for social workers providing social work services directly to the public.    
  • Psychotherapy Act, 2007 - a highly effective province-wide campaign, spearheaded by OASW, and involved the profession, employers and service associations in lobbying the Premier, the Minister of Health and MPPs that secured inclusion of the profession in this Act.  
  • Use of Title "Doctor" - in 2010, changes to the Social Work and Social Service Work Act, 1998 enabled social workers with a doctorate in social work to use the title "Doctor" when providing clinical services. Previously, this title was restricted to five, largely male-dominated professions under the Regulated Health Professions Act. 
  • Recognition as a "Medical Practitioner" in Income Tax Act - as of 2012, fees for clinical social work services can be claimed as a "medical" expense for the purpose of a tax deduction. OASW lobbied for many years for this change. The lack of a medical deduction for social workers was a disincentive, especially for physicians, to refer to our profession.   
  • Social Work and Social Service Work Professional Development Fund (SWSSWPDF) - in 2015, following successful advocacy by OASW, the Ontario government launched a $1 million 2-year pilot project which provides reimbursement for professional development activities for social workers and social services workers. 

  • Passing the Controlled Act of Psychotherapy - in 2017, OASW launched a successful grassroots advocacy campaign to pass the controlled act of psychotherapy, ensuring access to the title of "Psychotherapist," for qualified social workers.

Questions about these historic milestones should be referred to the Communications Coordinator @ [email protected].