Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas & All the Best!

A little Social Work humour:

I want to thank all of the readers who have visited and shared the blog with others. This blog is a labour of love to me & I hope people are getting something out of it. 

I hope everyone has a wonderful & festive Christmas. Enjoy some time to rest, eat nummy things, relax and connect with family & friends. 

Happy Holidays, 

Tracey Young, MSW, RSW
Editor, BC Social Workers

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Virginia Satir Training around BC: Fernie & Duncan

I believe the greatest gift I can conceive of having from anyone is to be seen, heard, understood and touched by them. The greatest gift I can give is to see, hear, understand and touch another person. When this is done, I feel contact has been made. --Virginia Satir

Give yourself a gift for the new year: Satir training!

No matter what your area of practice, Satir Transformational Systemic Therapy will expand your clinical skills and personal self-knowledge. 

I took Level 1 and it is one of the best investments in my own mental health and well-being and it really enhanced my clinical skills too.

Here are some resources to explore Satir:

The Satir Change Model

Fundamental Principles of Therapy with Virginia Satir


Register now for the Early Bird Rate for STST Level 2 in Duncan

Members $700 and Non Members $750 until December 21

10 day Satir Transformational Systemic Therapy training Program Level 2

When: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
  • Thursday January 31, Friday February 1, Saturday February 2, 2013,
  • Thursday February 28, Friday March 1, Saturday March 2, 2013
  • Thursday April 4, Friday April 5, 2013
  • Thursday April 25 and Friday April 26, 2013
Riverwalk Cafe, Quw'utsun Cultural Center
200 Cowichan Way, Duncan BC

For more information contact:

Cindi Mueller, Administrator
Satir Institute of the Pacific
13686-94A Avenue,
Surrey, BC V3V 1N1

STST Level 1 to be held in Fernie, BC

10 day Satir Transformational Systemic Therapy
Level 1 Training Program

April 12, 13, 14, May 4, 5, 6, June 6, 7, 8, and 9, 2013

Early Bird Rate till March 1, 2013
SIP Members $800
Non Member $850
After March 1, 2013
SIP Members $850
Non Members $900
All fees include Tuition and program text and program handout
Where: Fernie Lodging Company, Timberline Lodge Centennial Room
4559 Timberline Crescent Fernie BC V0B 1M6 1-800-667-9911

For more information see the attached brochure or contact:

Cindi Mueller, Administrator
Satir Institute of the Pacific
13686-94A Avenue, Surrey, BC V3V 1N1
604-634-0572 or email

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Regulation of Social Work in BC: Exemptions & Upcoming Changes

Here in B.C. social workers and others working in child protection face many of the exact same issues that are being raised in the Sinclair inquiry. 

In our province, the Ministry of Children & Family Development (MCFD) were the ones who drafted and brought the Social Workers Act (2008) into being. This Act created the BC College of Social Workers (BCCSW)

The BC College of Social Workers (BCCSW) is the regulatory body for the practice of social work in British Columbia.  Our mandate is to protect the public interest by establishing and supporting high standards for qualified Registered Social Workers. 

If you would like to read more about the history and background of social work regulation visit this page

Unfortunately, MCFD, created exemptions for all B.C. public sector social workers from having to become Registered SW's under the College. This means that those working in child protection in MCFD, who is responsible for the Act, are not legally required to be registered. This is major gap in oversight and accountability in B.C. 

When looking at the mandate of Registrants of the BCCSW, one would wonder how it can possibly be justified for child protection workers to be exempt. This is definitely not the case in other provinces and in many states in the United States. 

The additional importance of registration is creating the legitimacy of title for who can legally call themselves "social workers." The issue of title is becoming increasingly important as SW's find traditional social work jobs being replaced by other professions and being re-named to become more general titles, such as "case manager," "clinican" or "Social Program Officer."  

As a profession, we need to start getting more vocal and active on this issue. Hundreds of jobs that used to be restricted to SW's have been lost over the past couple of decades. We need to ask ourselves what the impacts have been of these changes to the profession of SW and we need to start thinking about our future and how we can strengthen and create a more robust profession in B.C.

Since the proclamation of the Act, the BCCSW has been working with various government parties to remove the exemptions on SW's working in public sector health authorities. As of 2013, these exemptions will be removed. For the most part, I've met very few SW's working in health who were not registered and it is generally a requirement for being hired. The BCCSW provides this information update:

Social Workers employed by Health Authorities now required to register - click here for details
Health Authority social workers - application package now available!
Here are some bulletins the BC Government & Employees Union (BCGEU) regarding impacts of practice issues in the BC government:

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. A grandfathering clause would give workers in the field three years to apply to become registered, she said.

So far, none of the social workers who've testified at the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry has said they're registered social workers. All but one had a social work degree.

Most said they didn't see a need to register.

"It's more about the commitment members make to the profession," Browne said.

Members have to have criminal-background checks, must complete 40 hours a year of professional development and pay membership fees that cover such things as liability insurance. Registered social workers have professional standards they have to meet or face disciplinary action. The public benefits because they have a place to take a complaint about a social worker, she said.

Earlier in the day, the supervisor of the intake unit that closed the file on Phoenix Sinclair in 2004 testified workers were so overloaded, it affected their work.

Government lawyer Sacha Paul told Carolyn Parsons employment records show she actually had a full complement of staff.

"If that's what the record shows" it must be true, said Parsons. When the workload increased as devolution of the child welfare agencies "went live" in 2005, the department brought in students, retirees and more part-timers to "pick up the slack," he told her. Her intake unit didn't get any of that extra help while it dealt with the upheaval, she said.

"That was taking a lot of energy from people and away from the practice," said Parsons.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Tragedy results from mental health system, safety net that fall

This was a letter I wrote to the Editor that was published in the Vancouver Sun. Tracey Young, December 17, 2012. 
My heart goes out to the three women who had the misfortune to cross the path of Nicholas Osuteye. We should consider all of these individuals victims of the failing civil mental health system of care and a social safety net that fails the most vulnerable and high-risk people every day in B.C.
As a social worker who has worked in psychiatric inpatient units with individuals experiencing acute, severe and chronic psychiatric disorders, I can tell you Mr. Osuteye's experience with B.C.'s acute psychiatric system is not uncommon.
He also faced unique, made-in-B.C. structural barriers to receiving the help and support he required, putting him and others at-risk.
Media reports suggest Mr. Osuteye voluntarily went to hospital because he wanted help with medication. If Mr. Osuteye has been here for less than three months, he would not meet the residency requirements for medical coverage under the policies of the current health insurance regime of the B.C. government. Therefore, he likely had no way to pay for his stay in hospital and no way to pay for medications, which would not be covered.

Mr. Osuteye also would not have met the residency requirements for applying for crisis income assistance with the Ministry of Social Development if he were here less than three months.
Even if he had access to a computer, which is how people must apply now, he likely would not have been able to navigate the Byzantine application process due to his acute illness.
If he had tried to call an office, he likely would have been unable to get through to speak to a human being due to the automated telephone system which bureaucratically ensures fewer people can successfully apply for income assistance.
In my work as a psychiatric social worker at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital my colleagues and I saw clear anecdotal evidence that individuals who were not receiving necessary civil mental health care, treatment and admission to acute psychiatric units in local hospitals (if needed), or those who were discharged before stabilization, and with a lack of solid discharge plans to support them in the community, often ended up committing criminal code violations while acutely mentally ill.
Many of these individuals go on to be found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder (NCRMD) and are then subject to lengthy time spent in the much more expensive Forensic Psychiatric system that taxpayers are funding.
In the last decade, the B.C. government has created grand mental health plans for children, youth and adults, but their failure to adequately resource these required systems of care has put many at risk.
Tragedies like this case occur because of the unspoken, unacknowledged failure of the B.C. government for its lack of leadership, monitoring, accountability and adequate funding of the mental health system of care. It is time for them to take responsibility and to stop new tragedies from occurring. They are the only ones who can do it.
Tracey Young Vancouver

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Today's Theme: Personality Disorders ;-}

Jonathon Rosen

Thinking Clearly About Personality Disorders

, November 26, 2012, New York Times. 

Excerpts, for the whole article visit here

For years they have lived as orphans and outliers, a colony of misfit characters on their own island: the bizarre one and the needy one, the untrusting and the crooked, the grandiose and the cowardly. 

This weekend the Board of Trustees of the American Psychiatric Association will vote on whether to adopt a new diagnostic system for some of the most serious, and striking, syndromes in medicine: personality disorders

Personality disorders occupy a troublesome niche in psychiatry. The 10 recognized syndromes are fairly well represented on the self-help shelves of bookstores and include such well-known types as narcissistic personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, as well as dependent and histrionic personalities. 

But when full-blown, the disorders are difficult to characterize and treat, and doctors seldom do careful evaluations, missing or downplaying behavior patterns that underlie problems like depression and anxiety in millions of people. 

The new proposal — part of the psychiatric association’s effort of many years to update its influential diagnostic manual — is intended to clarify these diagnoses and better integrate them into clinical practice, to extend and improve treatment. But the effort has run into so much opposition that it will probably be relegated to the back of the manual, if it’s allowed in at all. 

Personality problems aren’t exactly new or hidden. They play out in Greek mythology, from Narcissus to the sadistic Ares. They percolate through biblical stories of madmen, compulsives and charismatics. They are writ large across the 20th century, with its rogues’ gallery of vainglorious, murderous dictators. 

Yet it turns out that producing precise, lasting definitions of extreme behavior patterns is exhausting work. It took more than a decade of observing patients before the German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin could draw a clear line between psychotic disorders, like schizophrenia, and mood problems, like depression or bipolar disorder

Likewise, Freud spent years formulating his theories on the origins of neurotic syndromes. And Freudian analysts were largely the ones who, in the early decades of the last century, described people with the sort of “confounded identities” that are now considered personality disorders. 

Their problems were not periodic symptoms, like moodiness or panic attacks, but issues rooted in longstanding habits of thought and feeling — in who they were. 

In the late 1970s, Ted Millon, scientific director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Personology and Psychopathology, pulled together the bulk of the work on personality disorders, most of it descriptive, and turned it into a set of 10 standardized types for the American Psychiatric Association’s third diagnostic manual. Published in 1980, it is a best seller among mental health workers worldwide. 

These diagnostic criteria held up well for years and led to improved treatments for some people, like those with borderline personality disorder. Borderline is characterized by an extreme neediness and urges to harm oneself, often including thoughts of suicide. Many who seek help for depression also turn out to have borderline patterns, making their mood problems resistant to the usual therapies, like antidepressant drugs. 

Today there are several approaches that can relieve borderline symptoms and one that, in numerous studies, has reduced hospitalizations and helped aid recovery: dialectical behavior therapy.


A pioneering approach to treating parents with personality disorders is achieving excellent results and, potentially, saving councils thousands of pounds. Judy Cooper investigates.
Wednesday 12 December 2012 17:51
On a suburban street in Holloway, behind a shopping centre, sits a small building that resembles a nursery with its clean, light rooms and abundant toys, photos and cots.

In fact, that’s exactly what it used to be, but the building is now the focus of a new way of working between mental health services and social workers in Islington.

Minna Daum, one of the project leads and a family therapist with the Anna Freud Centre in London, says social workers often become paralysed when faced with parents who are hostile or intimidating – or, in clinical speak, show signs of personality disorder. 

AdTech Ad
“It’s hard to see the child and what the risks are because they are having to deal with the immediate problem of the parents and their anger,” Daum says. “The system becomes paralysed because there's a lack of services for these parents, so social workers are faced with closing the case or escalating it into a child protection issue.”

Co-project lead Dr Duncan McLean, a psychiatrist, worked with adults in mental health services at the Maudsley Hospital day centre and became keenly aware that services for parents with mental health problems were minimal. 

“Adult services don’t cater for those with children but if you have a child under five what are you supposed to do with them while you go for treatment? It’s a massive gap and effective transitions between child and adult mental health services are non-existent,” he says.

Shadowing social workers

The pair’s belief that parental problems could be resolved much earlier in the process prompted them to apply for government funding to set up the Early Years Parenting Unit (EYPU) under a service level agreement with Islington’s children’s social care.

The EYPU only takes referrals from social workers who believe children are at risk of being taken into care. Anna Freud therapists were allocated to social work teams after shadowing them and undergoing IT and data-sharing training so they could have (read-only) access to files.

Psychologist Nicola Labuschagne says the team still work closely with social workers and will go out on joint visits with them, “so we know what the social worker's concerns are and what needs to happen or change for their concerns to be reduced”.

In the year since the unit opened 15 families have entered the programme. In four of the families the risks have reduced to the point where children who were about to be taken into care have instead been placed on the child-in-need register.

Labuschagne admits the commitment - two days a week for 18 months - feels overwhelming for many parents, but says once they start most understand the need for it and enjoy the visits. What makes the EYPU unique, according to McLean, is that the same staff deal with all three presenting issues in one place – the parent’s own problems and mental health, their parenting and the child’s developmental problems.

However, the unit's funding will come to an end in April 2013. The team is applying for more, but there are concerns for its future with cash-strapped local authorities reluctant to take on extra spending.

Read about the perspective of a parent in the program, a SW and the cost effectiveness here

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Training, Professional & Career Development for SW's

Majority of newly qualified social workers struggle to find time for training
Social workers at all levels have felt the impact of cuts to the number of support staff in their teams, according to the latest research. Meanwhile newly qualified practitioners are seeing a squeeze on their training and supervision.

Kirsty McGregor, December 11, 2012, Community Care. 
Almost nine out of 10 newly qualified social workers find it difficult to fit training and professional development in around other demands on their time, a survey has revealed. Half of the 117 newly-qualified respondents to Liquid Personnel’s survey of social workers said their current caseload was “unmanageable”, while 88% said they found it hard to fit in training and 63% felt they did not receive enough supervision.

“We risk having a generation of practitioners whose development is stunted and who are more experienced at filling in forms rather than what they joined the profession to do – working with people,” warned Jonathan Coxon, managing director of Liquid Personnel.

The recruitment agency's wider survey, which received more than 600 responses in total, found 67% of social workers have seen cuts to administrative and support posts in their teams over the last 12 months.

“We still have the same amount of cases in our team, but less workers and less admin support,” said one local authority social worker, based in the Midlands. “The time we spend with families in direct work has reduced significantly. Now in essence we see them the bare minimum, just so the stats are ok.”

Among the managers who responded, 94% agreed that cuts to support staff had hindered their team’s ability to work effectively.

Related articles

70% of social workers worry about their newly qualified colleagues
'My team's support for me as a newly qualified social worker has been phenomenal'

Editorial Comment:

I've generally found the barrier to being able to attend training were managers (who were not social workers) approving the time and cost. Many of the systems we work in have been slashing their training and professional development budgets over the past few years. 

Professional and career development and access to training is an important issue to all social service professionals. Currently, Registered Social Workers in BC are one of the only recognized professions that does not require its members to take a specific number of Continuing Education credits to ensure that registrants remain current and develop themselves as professionals. 

There is a BCCSW internal committee that has been working on this issue for some time. It is a complex issue for a number of reasons. A large majority of RSW's in the province work for public sector employers and accessibility to training and professional development can be quite restricted in today's fiscally constrained organizations. 

There is also a reluctance to give people time off to attend training because there is nobody to pick up the workload of an uncovered caseload. Sadly, I also think one of the problems is that there are employers who simply do not understand, or see the benefits and need for professional and career development for their employees. 

For instance one Health Authority has made the decision to cancel a one day training event that an internal committee of volunteers has already been working on for Social Work Week in 2013. This sounds a loud and clear message to the SW's of that organization.

BC is also a vast place, geographically, so professionals working in rural and smaller communities do not have the same accessibility to training as those in more urban areas. Although I have to say, I've seen a lot of great training events put on in smaller communities that I wished I could attend. 

There is also some truth to the notion that we may have a hard time trying to fit training into our schedule with the workloads already being carried. Many of us know the feeling of coming back to even more work and crisis when we are off with no coverage. 

However most professionals I know thrive on being able to access training, information and having opportunities to develop our knowledge and skill base. We see training as an important way to develop both professionally and personally. 

Perhaps in 2013 more of us will consider accessing the rights that have been bargained for us and letting our employers know that training, professional and career development are crucial to building our own capacity as employees in carrying out our duties, building organizational capacity with a well-trained and educated workforce and recruiting and retaining us as employees.

It's even been made difficult to get time off for training although many of our collective agreements actually have provisions for us to take training. Social workers and other professionals who work for the BC government are covered under Component agreements, in addition to the Master Agreement. The Social, Information and Health- Component 6 has Article 6 - Career Development (pg. 5), which states:

6.1 Purpose

(a) Both parties recognize that changing legislation and policy, improved equipment, methods, and procedures may create changes in the job structure of this Component's workforce. The parties also recognize the need to provide employees with the opportunity for career development.

(b) The provisions of this article are intended to assist regular employees in maintaining and improving skills, to assist them in preparing for promotion, and to improve the quality of service offered to the citizens of British Columbia.

6.3 Professional Development

(a) In order that each employee shall have the opportunity for an exchange of knowledge and experience with colleagues in the private and public sectors, regular employees shall be entitled to up to 10 days leave with pay per year for the following purposes:

(1) To attend conferences or conventions related to the employee's field or specialization.
(2) To participate in seminars, workshops, symposia, or similar out-service programs to keep up-to-date with knowledge and skills in their respective field.
(3) In the case of chaplains, professional development shall include activities of the employee's religious denomination which are necessary to the maintenance of the employee's credentials.
(4) A maximum of two (2) of the ten (10) Professional Development Days shall be available to undertake research of work related topics approved by the supervisor. Scheduling shall be by mutual agreement.

ARTICLE 17 - LEAVE - EDUCATION under the Health Sciences Association (HSA) Agreement states the following:

17.01 The employer recognizes the desirability of providing a climate for employees to improve their education level, to enhance their opportunities for advancement, and to enhance their qualifications.

17.02 Education leave shall be granted by the employer to regular employees requesting such leave, subject to the following provisions:
(a) The Employer shall grant one (1) day's education leave of absence with pay (at straight time rates) for each day that an individual employee gives of their own time. Education leave of absence with pay is not to exceed 36 hours of employer contribution per agreement year.
The Employer shall grant one (1) day leave of absence at straight time rates when an employee attends an approved educational program on two (2) consecutive days off. This one (1) day leave of absence shall be included in the "36 hours of employer contribution" of an agreement year.
(b) Premium pay does not apply under this article.
(c) Educational leave will be utilized for courses that relate to the employee's profession and are approved by the employer. It may also be utilized to sit exams for relevant professional courses.
(d) Such leave and reasonable expenses associated with the leave will be subject to budgetary and operational restraints. Reasonable expenses for all such leaves will not exceed $600 per employee per agreement year.
(e) Additional unpaid leave for education purposes may be requested by employees. The Employer shall not be responsible for any expenses related to such unpaid leave.
(f) Education leave is not accumulated from Agreement year to Agreement year.
(g) This article applies to expenses, but not to leaves-of-absence, for correspondence courses.
17.03 Application for education leave shall be submitted to the Employer with as much lead time as practical, with due consideration for the staffing requirements of the Employer.

The employee shall be informed of the Employer's decision within a reasonable period of time from the date of submission.

Public Sector Collective Agreements

BC Government & BC Government and Service Employees Union (BCGEU):

15th Master Agreement; April 1, 2010 - March 31, 2012


BCGEU: Community Social Services - Component 3

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Global Social Work: SW's in Gaza Want Peace

The other day I was thinking about children who are growing up in war zones. On a daily basis they are breathing in fear, chaos and hate. These adult-created environments stifle the natural beauty, love, life and light that children are infused in at birth and replace it with something foreign and toxic, something that replicates itself over their lives.

I am so awed and inspired by those of our profession who work overseas, in some of the most dangerous and tragic circumstances, as the stories below show. 

I pray for a world where all children grow up in Peace.

Frontline social workers in Gaza: 'We want only peace'
Rory Truell, of the International Federation of Social Workers, describes his conversations with colleagues in Gaza and the West Bank during the eight-day military offensive

, Guardian Professional,

"It is the children we are worried about," said Riad, a social worker from the West Bank. "We have to do everything we can to keep the long term traumatic effects to a minimum." Riad works as a child protection social worker. Before the eight-day offensive, his role was to protect children's rights and ensure they were free from the effects of domestic violence and physical or sexual abuse.

His job will be understood by social workers throughout the world. The highly developed skills of working with families in crisis, shaping and facilitating outcomes that enable children to thrive is always a challenge – but fulfilling these roles with the everyday background of poverty and military occupation makes a difficult job even more complex. However, Riad and other social workers from the Palestinian Union of Social Workers & Psychologists have learned to navigate the political, social and economic restraints. So when an all-out military campaign rains bombs on Gaza, and no one knows who will get hit next, Riad was able to change focus immediately and take action aimed at creating the widest positive effects for the maximum number of children.

Riad is the kind of person who gives everyone around him confidence. His wisdom and experience show in his gestures and his considered words. Even though he suffers along with everyone else in his community, he maintains his professional role and speaks calmly and thoughtfully. He will not be persuaded to get angry but, instead, reminds everyone that "all have a responsibility to look after the children".

He told me that he had approached the local media and asked them not to show graphic pictures of people killed. "We have to try to control the level of trauma that the children are exposed to," he explained. "They need a secure and safe place to try to absorb what is happening around them and images of bodies in the newspapers do not help."

At the beginning of the offensive, Riad contacted local schools and offered to train teachers how to manage the social and psychological effects on the children. Schools were more than willing to participate. He instructed the teachers to allow each child to speak each day for five minutes on what was happening in their families, and also to speak about the good things that were happening.

"It's important that the children don't suppress their feelings and that they search for their strengths and hope for the future," he said. "If they can't process their emotions during this time, they could be affected for the rest of their lives."

As well as getting children to verbalise their stories, Riad has organised workshops in class where the children are encouraged to draw their feelings and tell stories in images. Another technique he teaches is to encourage the children to play out their experiences in supervised play sessions. These approaches enable the children to find ways to externalise the trauma, rather than letting it fester like an internal time bomb.

Mohammed, a social worker from Gaza, was not so able to support the children. It was impossible for him to get to his place of work while bombs were destroying homes and entire families in his district. His normal social work role involves projects to engage youth and older peoples in sporting and other positive activities.

Mohammed told me he felt so sad that so many innocent people had died – including more than 20 children – and that he was unable to leave his home to arrange support. He said that as soon as the bombing stopped, he would be able to resume his work, made more difficult because some roads are now unusable. For many homes, there is no electricity or running water.

It was clear to me that Mohammed was also traumatised but had not lost his focus on his professional aspirations: "Help people, find them resources, get them helping others," he said.

I asked Mohammed what resources he wanted. "We only want peace. I want to live in peace. I want everybody to live in peace."

"When the bombing stops, we will rebuild. There are so many people who will need social work to overcome their grief and loss and we will have a lot of work to do'."

I asked Riad how it is for him personally. He replied that he is a father of three children and each night they, like all children, wake screaming from nightmares and fears that their house will be the next one to be hit. "A war is a challenge for social workers," he said. "We are mothers and fathers, too, and it can be lonely being both a professional and a parent at these times."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Girls & Women

I have done a post on Advocacy BC in honour of the many girls and women who experience oppression and violence across Canada. I have included a number of resource links for places girls and women can contact in case they need help.

Momentum is building for a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Girls and Women across Canada. The United Nations has cited Canada for our failure to do anything meaningful about the girls and women who have gone missing, or been murdered.  

I hope that Social Workers, collectively and individually, will find a way to support a National Inquiry.

Liberal senator launches upper chamber inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal womeniPolitics Updated


A Liberal senator has launched an inquiry in the upper chamber into missing and murdered aboriginal women, part of growing momentum to address the problem in Canada. 

On Tuesday, aboriginal senator Sandra Lovelace Nicholas, who hails from Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick, proposed the inquiry “into the tragedy of missing and murdered aboriginal women.”

“Let us work together across party lines and jurisdictions to act for Canadians, for aboriginal women and girls and their families. Let us do what we are here to do as legislators and advocates on behalf of Canadian society,” said Nicholas.

“I propose that we study this matter in and through this honourable place, that we review the status, impact and effectiveness of the government’s response to date, and that we engage in dialogue with national aboriginal leaders, particularly the Native Women’s Association of Canada, to determine ways and means of working with them to truly end the plight of aboriginal women.” 

It means the issue will be studied in the Senate chamber, with opportunity for senators to speak on it every day until the end of session or the dissolution of Parliament.

Although relatively informal, it could set the stage for a future motion to study the issue at committee where senators could hear from witnesses and make formal recommendations in reports.

According to the Native Women’s Association of Canada, almost 600 aboriginal women have gone missing or have been murdered in Canada in the last 30 years. It was the association’s Sister in Spirit initiative that compiled the data over five years with $5 million in funding, from the previous Liberal government but it was not renewed by the Conservatives.

Nicholas said there have been 153 murders of aboriginal women, which represents approximately 10 per cent of the total number of female homicides in Canada despite the fact that aboriginal women make up only three per cent of the female population in Canada.

Calls for a national inquiry, including recently from Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau, who even penned a song about it, have so far been rejected by the Harper government.

On Tuesday at the Assembly of First Nation’s annual meeting, women’s council chair Adeline Webber said a national inquiry is the only way to draw attention to the issue.

“It’s just being brushed aside,” she said. “If there were almost 600 missing and murdered regular everyday women, non-First Nation women, there would be a public outcry.”
© 2012 iPolitics Inc.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Global Social Work: The Evils of Austerity

We don't call domestic economic policies of the Canadian government or the BC government "austerity measures." However many of us who have been working on the front lines, and elsewhere, cannot mistake the sharp right turn and the wholesale gutting of the social safety net that has been happening for our most vulnerable citizens. 

Social workers have seen dramatic job losses in BC in the last decade, or so. Hundreds of SW jobs have been slashed in the BC government. There have also been job cuts in the Health Authorities as well. The impacts are felt by those left behind and those who replace those who get burned out and so on. 

In spite of our struggles within Canada, things are so much worse elsewhere. So called austerity measures are being carried out across many nations. These are nothing but state cuts which are targeted to impact services and supports for the poor and middle class, the young and old, the have nots in society.  

Domestic and global socio-economic systems are in a state of decay, being propped up by "solutions" that continue to transfer the wealth of the people into the hands of the corporations. This is happening right under our noses all around the globe.

Here in Canada, the federal government has announced the new role of the private sector in providing services to people, which includes slashing millions from government funded public services

                                     Together We Can Change the World

How are Portugal's cuts affecting social workers?

Rory Truell, secretary-general of the International Federation of Social Workers, is visiting social workers in countries imposing austerity measures. He reports on a visit to Portugal where he met six social workers based at a cancer hospital in Porto.

Rory Truell, Guardian Professional,

Ana's job involves ensuring that people who leave hospital after surgery or treatment have the support needed to recover at home or in another non-hospital setting.

"Some of the patients who have had major surgery need a lot of support and sometimes they are also depressed after losing a breast or some other part of the body" she says.
Ana's job has become significantly more difficult. There was a time before the austerity cuts when she could refer patients to specialised community-based units but cuts have significantly reduced such options or made them unaffordable for many people.

"We now have to try to get charities or family or friends to look after discharged patients, which is not easy as most people that live in cities are working and can't be at home to help," says Ana. She adds that it takes a lot more unpaid hours to find solutions of her clients.

To Ana and her colleagues, the economic direction of their country has very worrying long-term consequences. Unemployment has increased from 9.6% before the crisis to 15.7% in 2012. Youth unemployment is 32.6 %, seriously affecting the confidence of the next generation. Portuguese citizens have not only had their wages cut and taxes increased, but they are also enduring a rise in the cost of living from 1.4% a year in 2010 to 3.6% in 2011. All this has pushed the poverty rate in Portugal to 24.4% and it is still climbing as the prime minister is proposing to cut employers' social security contributions with the likelihood of further cuts in benefits.

Young people with degrees are fleeing the country, leaving permanent skills gaps that will undermine any future recovery. It is difficult to imagine the likely scale of the change by the end of the austerity process – and that is without taking account of the very real prospect of being expelled from the Eurozone, which would thoroughly devalue all the country's assets and those of every citizen.

Social workers and citizens of Portugal are not alone in seeing the damaging effects of the austerity measures. Many economists and analysts have pointed out that austerity is having the reverse effect of what was intended as debt is in fact escalating. Director of international labor studies in the UN's International Labor Organisation, Raymond Torres, commented that "the austerity and regulation strategy was expected to lead to more growth, which is not happening. The strategy of austerity actually has been counterproductive from the point of view of its very objective of supporting confidence and supporting the reduction of budget deficits."

Furthermore, the austerity measures mostly affect poor people and those in need of state services, not those who created the problems. The large EU bail-outs reported in the media will have no positive impact on the vulnerable since the money goes straight into the pockets of the investors. Ana tells me that hospitals now have to charge patients and she is worried this will stop people coming in for early diagnosis and treatment. This again is a measure that will ultimately inflate costs as preventative and early treatments are often far cheaper than managing more advanced stages of illness, let alone the human effects on the patients and families of not treating illness early.

There are many alternatives to austerity that can manage debt responsibly without risking economic security and wellbeing. As social workers, we have a natural interest in seeing regulation of world economies to ensure that the poor and marginalised are not repeatedly paying the price for others' greed. Entrusting our long-term wellbeing to unregulated free markets is not a good option. As the leader of the social work team Esperança says to me, "we can't trust the state, we took it for granted that we would have our basic services and receive our pensions, but now we can take nothing for granted."

These social workers in Porto however are not defeated and they are just six of the thousands of social workers in Portugal finding solutions every day.

"We have in part had to return to the old days when people looked after the neighbours and people in communities supported each other," says one of the team. "As social workers we find the resources, we don't abandon people. It is just a shame the government doesn't see our work as being a part of the answer, instead they unfortunately cut our services – the services that are keeping people's heads above water."

The Portuguese Association of Professional Social Workers and the International Federation of Social Workers are calling on the EU to bring in new measures for debt reduction and to introduce regulatory systems that stabilise the impact of economies on the wellbeing of peoples. As can be seen by the experience of Ana and her colleagues throughout Portugal, social workers have performed and continue to play a vital role in finding creative and responsible answers to these huge social and economic problems. By continuing to provide social work services against all odds, social workers become part of the solution and not the problem.

Rory Truell is secretary general of the International Federation of Social Workers

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Job Posting & EMDR Training

Metis Commission for Children and Families of BC position available!

 Position: Court Notification Analyst
Reason for posting: This position has posted to fill 1 vacancy
Organization: Metis Commission for Children and Families of BC
Location: Kamloops
Term/Status: Permanent, full-time opportunity
Eligibility: Open to all qualified applicants
Wage: $22/hr for 35 hours/wk
Job Description: full job description available here

The Program -

The Metis Commission for Children and Families of BC is identified within provincial legislation (CFCSA) as the designated Metis community for children, youth and families within the child welfare system throughout our province. Through this legislation, the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) has a legal obligation to engage MCCF when there are child protection concerns regarding Metis children and families. Additionally, MCCF is involved in child welfare policy, research, quality assurance, best practices and community development. Our work is based on interactive and inclusive participation with the community we are serving and those serving our community to create holistic and culturally appropriate support services and programs for the Métis community of BC. 

The Role -
The purpose of this position is to ensure MCFD/DAA social workers are aware of and utilizing Metis specific planning and services for Metis children, youth and families. The Court Notification Analyst reviews court documentation; participates in cultural planning; works with Metis service providing organizations; participates in adoption planning processes; and keeps MCCF staff abreast of thematic issues being faced at a front-line level. While there will be rare times when this position works directly with Metis clients, most often the role is responsible for engaging the other professionals who are working with Metis people. 

Qualifications -
Skills and abilities include advocating on behalf of Metis clients and service providers; ability to work both independently and within a team setting and maintaining a strengths based approach; identifying and communicating concerns with cultural planning to social workers; organizing and prioritizing a high volume of diverse work; excellent judgment, problem-solving skills, analytical abilities and strong computer skills are a must.
A degree in social work (preferably MSW), or a related discipline, plus two years related experience; OR an equivalent combination of education, experience and training. Knowledge of non-profit work environment, related legislation (eg: CFCSA, Adoptions Act, etc), and professional social worker values and ethics. 

Successful applicants are subject to a Criminal Record Check, require their own vehicle and must be available for occasional travel.

How to apply: Interested applicants are asked to e-mail a cover letter, resume and 3 references to: Allysa Gredling at

Posting Deadline: Friday, December 14, 2012 at 1:00pm

Website address:


EMDR therapy, developed by Dr Francine Shapiro (, Executive Director of the EMDR Institute, is a comprehensive psychotherapy approach proven effective for treatment of trauma-related disorders. The EMDR Institute Basic Training offers mental health clinicians an opportunity to become familiar with a broad spectrum of EMDR applications sufficient to address a wide range of therapeutic needs of clients. EMDR therapy is compatible with other therapeutic paradigms, including, psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral, experiential and systemic.

EMDR Institute Basic Training
Weekend 1-April 26-28, 2013
Weekend 2-September 6-8, 2013
Location: YMCA , 535 Hornby St
Vancouver, CAN V6C 2E8
Presenter: Barbara Parrett, RN, MS
Personally trained by Francine Shapiro, PhD
Sponsor: Stephen Milstein, PhD

For further information:

To see the research and efficacy of EMDR:

To register:
Phone: 831-761 1040

Canadian Registration Requirements: Minimum of a master's degree in clinical
or counselling psychology or social work. Membership in a professional
association that has a written code of ethics or standards of conduct.
Professional liability insurance.
EMDR Institute is founded by Dr Francine Shapiro, developer of the EMDR Therapy Approach