April 18, 2024
The transgender flag is visible in the midday sun after being raised in Violet King Henry Plaza, on the Alberta legislature grounds, in honour of International Transgender Day of Visibility, in Edmonton Thursday March 31, 2022.

Social workers are told to push progressive climate, gender politics — or else

A March webinar by an Alberta social work association gave attendees ‘speaking points’ to help counter province’s social policies

Social work is a regulated profession because its practitioners can have a substantial impact on a person’s life. They can be the difference between keeping your children in a custody dispute. Their reports can help or hurt refugee claims, or a person’s ability to obtain cosmetic gender surgery. Given the delicate issues at play, one would expect the profession to stay out of politics, but this is not the case.

Left-wing political activism can be found in the codes of conduct of provincial regulatory bodies, in the work of professional associations and in the actions of individual social workers themselves.

In Ontario, the social-worker-as-political-advocate is sealed into the code of conduct. Violate the rules, and one can end up in a disciplinary proceeding.

“College registrants shall promote equity, inclusion and belonging in their work with clients and shall advocate for social change that challenges systemic oppression and seeks to eliminate implicit bias,” reads Ontario’s code. “College registrants shall approach all aspects of their work with humility (including cultural humility) and recognize how privilege and power imbalances affect policies and practice and impact clients.”

If you’re wondering what this is supposed to look like in practice, the college offers some pointers in its practice notes. In working with clients, the note on anti-Black racism explains that social workers should “always endeavour to initiate conversations about cultural diversity and race.” This is extreme, as not every client is actually going to want or need to talk about race.

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