CASW Code of Ethics

Ethical behaviour is at the core of every profession. On the occasion of National Social Work Week 2005, the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) adopted a new Code of Ethics and published Guidelines for Ethical Practice to serve as a companion document to the Code.

The Social Work Code of Ethics was last issued in 1994. In light of new developments and new forms of practice, it has now been revised following extensive consultation with key stakeholders and experts.

We invite both social workers and the public to review the Code of Ethics and the Guidelines for Ethical Practice (2005).

In Canada, social work legislation is the responsibility of the provinces/territories. To learn more about the ethical practice of social workers or to determine the current Code of Ethics adopted in your province/territory, please contact the provincial/territorial social work associations. For a complete listing of social work organizations click here.

CASW recognizes and welcomes comments and discussion that the 2005 Code has generated. CASW will gather feedback and will take it into consideration when it conducts a review of the Code of Ethics again. Email your comments to:

To purchase a copy of the Code of Ethics and the Guidelines for Ethical Practice sold as a package please contact the CASW national office. To download a printable Code of Ethics Poster, please see the attched PDF below.



CASW Scope of Practice Statement

Social work is a practice-based profession and academic discipline founded on theories of social work, social science, and humanities. It is advanced through an evidence informed approach and recognizes the importance of Indigenous ways of knowing in practice, the development of knowledge, and education, clinical services, policy, and research. Social work focuses on the person within their environment and recognizes the importance of family, community, culture, legal, social, spiritual, and economic influences that impact the well-being of individuals, families, groups, and communities. Social work applies a strengths-based perspective and views individual, families, and communities as resourceful, resilient, and having capacity. Principles of respect for the inherent dignity and worth of persons, the pursuit of social justice, and culturally responsive practice that applies an anti-oppressive lens to all areas of practice and is grounded in ethics, values, and humility, are central to social work.


Social work practice responds to needs of individuals, families, groups, and communities and addresses barriers and injustices in organizations and society. Social work focuses on improving health and social well-being using the social determinants of health framework when delivering services, navigating systems, and advocating for equitable access to and improvement of the multiple dimensions that impact health and well-being. Social work engages people and communities to address life challenges and traumatic events, to create change, and build resiliency. Social work also collaborates with other professionals, communities, and organizations to provide services, improve conditions, and create opportunities for growth, recovery, and personal development.


Individual competency is developed through education, training, continuous professional development, supervision, and a self-reflective approach to practice that bolsters learning from experience. Social work practice includes but is not limited to the roles outlined below. The appendix that follows provides specific roles related to the general descriptions.

  • The delivery of clinical services provided either face-to-face or with electronic means, within the context of a helping relationship including assessment, diagnosis, case management, counselling, therapy, consultation, crisis intervention, treatment, group services, and programs, social support, and referral services.
  • Advocacy activities to address barriers and inequities that exist in organizations and society, and to uphold human rights and social justice including support for Indigenous populations based on the Indigenous community’s identified needs
  • The delivery of services and interventions that support community development and enrich individual, family, and collective well-being.
  • Supervision to a social worker, social work student or other supervisee.
  • The development, promotion, management, administration, delivery, and evaluation of services and programs, including those done in collaboration with other professionals.
  • The management, leadership and administration of an organization and oversight of services, programs, and interventions provided by social workers or another supervisee.
  • The development, promotion, implementation, and evaluation of social policies aimed at improving social conditions and equality for individuals, families, groups, and communities, and social policies that promote social justice.
  • Education, training, and professional development regarding the practice of social work.
  • Research and evaluation to reflect on social work practice, to develop social policy, and to implement research informed findings into practice, including research that engages those using social work services and research done in collaboration with other professionals.  

Adopted June 2020


Click here to read the CASW Scope of Practice Statement, including the Appendix: Roles and Responsibilities within Social Work Scope of Practice