Regulator Urged for Social Workers

Article excerpt

Concept heard during Phoenix inquiry

Legislation to have Manitoba join the rest of Canada with regulated, accountable social workers isn't a lofty ideal but a plan in the works, the inquiry into the death of Phoenix Sinclair heard Tuesday.

After testimony about social workers being so overloaded students and retirees were recruited "to pick up the slack," the registrar of the Manitoba Institute of Registered Social Workers told the inquiry what's needed is more registered professionals.

Miriam Browne talked about the Social Work Profession Act, created in 2009 to form a governing body, which has still has not been proclaimed law in Manitoba.

"It would protect the public interest by regulating and supporting the profession," Browne told the inquiry. Her group has been pushing the Manitoba government to make it a priority for all social workers.

She expects the legislation will be proclaimed in 2013.

"It increases accountability," Browne told the inquiry. When proclaimed, the act will control who can use the term 'social worker,' said Browne.

Now, anyone can call themselves a social worker. Manitoba has close to 1,000 registered social workers, she said. Most are in the health-care field, where a culture of regulated professions already exists, said Browne. Registered social workers must have a social work degree from an accredited university.

"That's at the heart of quite a few people's concerns," she told the inquiry.

Browne said they will register social work veterans without a degree who have an equivalent combination of education and experience. …