The Intersectoral Initiative: An Introduction
The social work profession in Canada is made up of three sectors: education, practice and regulation. Each sector has a specific focus and role. The practice sector, represented by the Canadian Association of Social Workers, delivers a wide range of social work services; the education sector, represented by the Canadian Association for Social Work Education, prepares students for practice, both at a generic and a more advanced, specialized level; and the role of the regulation sector is to protect the public by ensuring that practitioners meet required standards of skilled and ethical practice. These roles are interdependent and each sector is essential to the other two. For many years it has been acknowledged that there needs to be greater collaboration and communication between the three, both at the provincial and the national level.
The first effort to increase collaboration among the sectors at the national level took place in 2001, at the Social Work Forum sponsored by CASW in Montreal where there was agreement on the benefits of working together on issues of common concern to the profession.
The current intersectoral initiative dates from 2006 and started with a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) and the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work, now retitled the Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE). In this MOU, the two national bodies agreed to communicate and collaborate on issues of joint interest and concern. An Intersectoral Working Group was formed to identify shared priorities and propose action, recognizing that it was incomplete without representation from the regulatory sector. Since there is at present no national organization of social work regulators, an invitation was extended to all provincial regulatory bodies to send a representative to a face-to-face meeting in Charlottetown, PEI in June, 2007.
At that meeting the following were identified as concerns shared by all sectors:
- Erosion of social work identity through deprofessionalization of sectors of social work;
- Issues related to multidisciplinary practice;
- Generalist versus specialist skills;
- Disconnect between training/education and conditions of work/expectation of employers;
- Lack of mentoring and clinical supervision for many social workers;
- Recruitment and retention, particularly in remote areas;
- Special needs of Aboriginal communities;
- Building leadership and commitment to the profession among new social workers.
Since then, the Group has established Terms of Reference under which all sectors could work together. The document sets out the purpose, principles, commitments, structure and operational guidelines for the initiative.
Greater detail on the issues identified by the Intersectoral Initaitive can be found in the power-point presentation below.
Steering Committee Membership
Benoît van Caloen
Canadian Council of Social Work Regulators
M. Claude Leblond
- Ordre Professionnel des Travailleurs Sociaux du Québec
- Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers
- Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers
- Alberta College of Social Workers
Steering Committee Terms of Reference
The purpose of the Intersectoral Collaboration Initiative is to promote communication, connection and collaboration among the three sectors (education, practice and regulation) of the social work profession in Canada.
Participants in this Initiative agree that the following principles will serve as the foundation of collaborative efforts:
- The social work profession is committed to the fundamental goal of advancing social justice.
- All clients have the right to receive skilled and ethical social work services from a registered social worker.
- All three sectors share the goal of collaborating to fulfill these roles.
- To work collaboratively to identify and prioritize issues of shared concern to all three sectors;
- To recognize and respect the specific roles played by each individual sector;
- To recognize that differences exist in legislation and policy within different jurisdictions;
- To promote communication and collaboration among the sectors at the national, provincial and territorial levels.
Intersectoral Collaboration Steering Committee (ICSC): The initiative is led by this committee, which is composed of representation from the participating sectors, totalling not more than 16 persons. The education sector will be represented by up to four (4) members of the Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE) and the practice sector by up to four (4) members of the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW). In the absence of a national body representing the regulatory sector, their representation will comprise up to four (4) members from stand-alone provincial bodies and up to four (4) from provincial bodies that are members of CASW. In the event that a national body of regulators is formed, its representation of up to four (4) members will replace that of the eight (8) provincial bodies, enabling balanced representation from each national body, totalling not more than 12 persons.
Chairperson: This role will be rotated among the sectors.
Task Groups: These may be struck as needed to carry out specific, time-limited tasks. Task groups will be chaired by a member of the Steering Committee but participants may be recruited from elsewhere within the profession, always maintaining the balance of equal representation of the three sectors. Task groups will use a consultative process to engage key stakeholders and constituencies in identifying needs and issues, and will ensure consistent feedback loops.
Decision Making: Decision making will be by consensus, using the Gradients of Agreement scale. Where necessary, a consultative process will be used with each sector’s constituency. No decision will be made which imposes any obligation on any of the parties, nor will any recommendation be made regarding the regulatory process which falls under the jurisdiction of the different provinces.
Criteria for deciding on Priority Issues:
- Does this issue affect all three sectors?
- Is there consensus that this issue needs to be addressed?
- Is there a role for each sector in addressing the issue?
- Will addressing the issue serve to unify and strengthen the social work profession?
- Will addressing the issue have a public education/promotion component?
- Will addressing the issue serve to build commitment among members of the profession?
Meetings: Committee meetings will be held by teleconference as required and in-person when possible. Task groups will meet by teleconference as required but will do much of their work by email. Responsibility for planning, arranging and recording meetings will be rotated among the member sectors.
Costs: The costs of teleconference meetings will be rotated among the sectors. Each participant organization will be responsible for sharing the costs of face-to-face meetings and funding attendance of its own representatives.
Communications: As much as possible, activities carried out by the Intersectoral Collaboration Initiative will make use of existing communication networks, newsletters, listserves, etc.
May 21, 2008