The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW) is a regulatory body whose primary duty is to serve and protect the public interest. The College’s mandate is to regulate the practice of social work and social service work and to govern its members. The College currently has over 19,000 members.

The College was created when the province of Ontario fully proclaimed the Social Work and Social Service Work Act (1998) on August 15, 2000. College membership is required for any person in Ontario who wishes to use the title “social worker” or “social service worker” and/or “registered social worker” or “registered social service worker”. College membership is required if a person represents or holds out expressly or by implication that he or she is a social worker or a social service worker or a registered social worker or a registered social service worker.

The College is accountable to the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

Why Regulate?

Regulation of a profession defines the practice of the profession and describes the boundaries within which it operates, including the requirements and qualifications to practise the profession. The primary mandate of any regulatory college is to protect the public interest from unqualified, incompetent or unfit practitioners.

Regulation brings credibility to the profession. Practitioners of a regulated profession are subject to a code of ethics and standards of practice.

Self-regulation allows a profession to act as an agent of the government in regulating its members because the government acknowledges that the profession has the special knowledge required to set standards and judge the conduct of its members through peer review.

What Does the College do to Protect the Public Interest?

The College:

  • Regulates the practice of social work and the practice of social service work and governs its members.
  • Develops, establishes and maintains qualifications for membership in the College.
  • Approves ongoing education programs for the purpose of continuing education for members of the College.
  • Provides for the ongoing education of members of the College.
  • Issues certificates of registration to members of the College and renews, amends, suspends, cancels, revokes and reinstates those certificates.
  • Receives and investigates complaints against members of the College and deals with the issues of discipline, professional misconduct, incompetence and incapacity.
  • Promotes high standards and quality assurance with respect to social work and social service work and communicates with the public on behalf of the members.

How is the College Administered?

A 21-member Council representing equally social workers, social service workers and the public governs the College. The Registrar is hired by, and reports to, the Council. The Registrar hires staff to fulfill the objects of the College as set out in the legislation.