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Furstenau to introduce new bill tightening social work regulations in B.C.

May 15, 2024
   4 min read
Array

For immediate release

May 15, 2024

VICTORIA, B.C. – Today, Sonia Furstenau, Leader of the BC Greens and MLA for Cowichan Valley, will introduce the Social Workers Amendment Act, 2024 to raise professional standards and enhance public safety. This bill updates the existing Social Workers Act to improve oversight and accountability in British Columbia’s social work sector.

Currently, not all social workers in the province are required to register with the College of Social Workers, allowing some individuals, particularly those in the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) and other departments, to practice without adequate oversight. This is a risk to the welfare of vulnerable British Columbians. 

“Mandatory registration ensures all social workers meet high standards and adhere to strict ethics,” said Furstenau. “This move will build public trust, as people know they’re receiving support from qualified professionals. This bill will eliminate oversight loopholes and enhance trust in social worker services, providing clear avenues to address any misconduct.”

It is unclear how many unregistered social workers are working in the province. The First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC) and the BC Association of Social Workers (BCASW) have long supported these regulatory improvements, highlighting their importance for both the profession and the public.

“Fake social workers, like Robert Riley Saunders who stole funds intended for children in care, have been exploiting gaps in the system for years. While this government has demonstrated its ability to act swiftly, as seen with the Premier’s quick response to BC United’s bill to prohibit violent offenders to legally change their name, it has been slow to address the longstanding issue of harm to children in care, despite decades of advocacy,” said Furstenau. 

Quote:

Michael Crawford, President, BC Association of Social Workers (BCASW)

“British Columbians deserve the best service possible from professional social workers and to have their interests fully protected. Passage of this amendment will require that all social workers be registered with the BC College of Social Workers ensuring that services are guided by a strict code of ethics and according to standards of practice developed by the profession. Regulatory colleges superintend professional practice, require the completion of professional education annually, investigate complaints and deliver disciplinary measures where necessary to protect the public. Our Association has called for these changes for many years.” 

Background

  • For nearly six decades, the BC Association of Social Workers (BCASW) has advocated for stronger public protections through enhanced social work regulation. In January 2020, BCASW requested inclusion in a revised Health Professions Act from the Steering Committee on Modernization of Health Professional Regulation.
  • Since 2020, the B.C. Greens have advocated for improved and more accessible mental health care, initially focusing on regulated psychologists. The proposed Social Workers Amendment Act 2024 is a step towards broader inclusion of counselling therapists and social workers under MSP, facilitating access to necessary mental health care.
  • The amendment seeks to eliminate sections 18 and 50(2) of the current Social Workers Act, which allow the minister to exempt certain individuals from registration. This change would require all practicing social workers to register with the BC College of Social Workers, ensuring they meet educational requirements, follow a professional code of ethics, and are accountable through disciplinary measures.

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Media contact
JoJo Beattie
Press Secretary
B.C. Green Caucus
+1 250-882-6187 | jojo.beattie@leg.bc.ca 

 

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