OTTAWA - March 17th, 2020.
Message from CASW President regarding COVID-19
As President of the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW), I want to acknowledge the uncertainty and insecurity we are feeling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
March is National Social Work Month with this year’s theme of United by Diversity, Strengthened by Inclusion. In this unsettling time, it is critically important to be strengthened by working together and to adapt as needed to working through this crisis which demands isolation as a preventative action but creates additional stress and trauma in Canada.
We know that, regardless of immediate or potential risk, social workers in Canada are working across all social sectors to safely address immediate public health concerns and protection. We are also addressing the compounding mental, psychological and emotional consequences that our families, communities, and our nation are experiencing at this time of uncertainty.
Social workers understand that people who are particularly vulnerable during this time; seniors, those on low-incomes or with inadequate housing plus individuals and communities in social isolation, need to be strengthened by inclusion in a supportive society. As our nation addresses the pandemic head-on, social workers will take note of which actions and supports would make us less vulnerable to future threats. In Canada, the economic impact of a loss of income will considerably impact the many who live only one paycheque away from poverty, while simultaneously moving others already struggling more deeply into the cycle of poverty.
The Government of Canada and the governments of each province and territory are assessing an immediate response to lessen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to its future social and economic consequences. CASW supports this action to lessen the negative impacts of this virus. However, we have seen that, when emergencies pass, people needing support to have basic needs met can be left behind as society seeks to move forward to better times.
At this time, in acknowledgement of the billions of dollars that will be spent to curve Canada away from a potential recession, CASW calls for serious consideration by the Parliament and Senate of Canada to adopt a universal basic income guarantee (uBIG) for all people in Canada. Having a basic income guarantee at this time would enable Canadians to have the economic grounding to face a health crisis head on, knowing that they have supports to pay for basic necessities. This also frees governments at all levels from constructing patchwork systems to address a national emergency.
CASW continues to monitor the evolving situation and to update information on our COVID-19 Resource page to protect social workers and the people we serve. We will continue to work alongside other health professionals to provide the most up-to-date information to our members.
Thank you to social workers across this nation for the work you do to support Canadians through this difficult and challenging time.