The Mental Illness Awareness Week blog, sharing stories of recovery, personal experiences, and mental health/mental illness news.


Member blog: Canadian Association of Social Workers

The Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) was founded in 1926 to monitor employment conditions and to establish standards of practice within the profession. CASW has since evolved into a national voice focussed on strengthening the profession and advancing issues of social justice.

CASW is active in the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW), providing leadership within the IFSW Executive as well as within the North American Region. The expertise of CASW in social policy, its concern for social justice and its continued role in social advocacy is recognized and called upon by IFSW.

On a national level, CASW has adopted a pro-active approach to issues pertinent to social policy/social work. It produces and distributes timely information for its members, and special projects are initiated and sponsored. Further to this, CASW is aligned with national and international coalitions that advance its mandate.

To this end, CASW is extremely proud of its longstanding association with CAMIMH as we share the vision of a country where all Canadians enjoy good mental health and that those with a lived experience of mental illness, their families and care providers have access to the care, support and respect to which they are entitled and in parity with other health conditions.
Work in the mental health field requires an ability to work collaboratively and is strengthened by a systems perspective.  As these knowledge and skill areas are emphasized in social work education, social workers are well positioned to play a significant role as Canada strives to achieve mental health goals in the twenty-first century.

Social work goes beyond the medical model’s focus on individual diagnosis to identify and address social inequities and structural issues.  A distinguishing characteristic of social work practice is the dual focus of the profession.  Social workers have, simultaneously, ethical responsibilities to address both private troubles and public issues.

In this regard, CASW’s primary focus in the past two years has been to draw attention to the benefit of making the Canadian Social Transfer (CST) accountable to Canadians. The CST is the primary source of federal funding in Canada that supports provincial and territorial social programs.  It is the contention of CASW that accountable and equitable investments in the social determinants of health (SDOH) will lower the overall cost of health care delivery and support positive mental health for all Canadians.

The SDOH encompass a broad range of social factors, including socio-economic status, early childhood education, and access to adequate housing, to name a few.  Moreover, income inequality is highly associated with the health of a nation.  Arguably, accountability of CST funding has the potential to have greater implications for the overall health and well-being of Canadians that the Canadian Health Transfer that has dominated all provincial and national discussions to this point.

With most provinces and territories adopting poverty reduction plans, it has become clear that Canada requires a national plan. The Government of Canada’s participation in a poverty reduction plan is essential given the billions transferred via the CST each year in support of the delivery of social and health services.
A national strategy would ensure that all Canadians, regardless of their age or where they live, would have equitable access to programs and services to support living with dignity and respect.

With the rules governing Canada’s equalization program and affordable housing agreements set to expire in 2014, the provincial, territorial and federal governments have opportunity to proactively address the growing income inequity gap in Canada.

The time has come for the provincial, territorial and federal governments to develop Principles of Accountability for investments in the social determinants health from the Canada Social Transfer.
It’s time to Defend our Social Programs for a Stronger Canada.

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