How to Register a Complaint
No person other than a member shall engage in the practice of social work by using the title "Social Worker" in Saskatchewan. The government of Saskatchewan has given SASW the responsibility to govern itself through the Social Workers Act (1993). The profession is regulated through the Professional Conduct Committee consisting of at least three persons appointed by the Council of SASW.. Where the Professional Conduct Committee is requested by Council to consider a complaint, or is in receipt of a written complaint, alleging that a member is guilty of professional misconduct or professional incompetence, the committee shall review the complaint and may take steps it considers necessary to investigate the complaint.
Anyone receiving the services of a Registered Social Worker is entitled to be treated in a fair and ethical manner. All Registered Social Workers are expected to abide by the Canadian Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics (2005) and the Standards for Ethical Practice for Registered Social Workers in Saskatchewan. We know that the vast majority of social workers are ethical and skilled practitioners who meet these obligations.
Occasionally situations arise that result in a complaint against a social worker. The purpose of this document is to provide both Registered Social Workers and members of the public with information on what constitutes a complaint, how to file a complaint, and what happens when a complaint is received. Any questions regarding this information can be forwarded to the SASW Office.
There are two ways SASW can exercise its powers under the Social Workers Act to protect the public.
- By accepting applications for membership from those applicants who meet the criteria for registration; and
- By investigating complaints against members who are alleged to be incompetent or accused of professional or ethical misconduct and where deemed appropriate, taking action to discipline a member in accordance with its mandate to protect the public interest.
Who investigates complaints?
Regulating the practice of social workers means that SASW, through the Professional Conduct Committee, has the responsibility to protect the public from persons who are not qualified to practice social work or whose competence or professional conduct as a social worker is questioned.
The Professional Conduct Committee consists of at least three registered social workers who have received special training for this task and are selected for their skill in a particular field or for their generally recognized expertise. Once the Professional Conduct Committee confirms that the subject of the complaint is a registered social worker, the Committee proceeds to review the complaint and, if within its jurisdiction, investigate the matter. The complainant will be informed whether or not the complaint will be investigated. With the consent of the complainant, a copy of the written complaint will be forwarded to the member who is the subject of the complaint. The member is given 30 days to respond. The first goal is to gather evidence in a fair and impartial manner to determine whether the allegations are supported by facts.
If the Professional Conduct Committee investigates and determines that the evidence demonstrates that the registered social worker has made an error or acted in a manner that caused harm to a client or the standing of the profession generally. The matter will be referred for mediation with consent of both parties OR referred to the Discipline Committee.
What is a Complaint?
A complaint is a written statement indicating that a person believes that a Registered Social Worker has violated the Code of Ethics, Standards of Practice, the Social Workers Act, or SASW By-Laws. A complaint may refer to "unskilled practice", "professional misconduct", "incompetence", "breach of code of ethics" and/or "conduct unbecoming of a registered social worker". A complaint may be submitted in writing by any individual who has knowledge of a violation. SASW will not act upon a verbal or anonymous complaint.
How is a formal complaint filed?
If you have decided that an issue needs to be addressed formally, your concerns must be put in writing. Please provide as much of the following information as possible:
- Your full name, address, and telephone number where you can be reached during the day/evening.
- The full name of the Registered Social Worker you are complaining about and any contact information you can provide.
- The details of the circumstances which led to the complaint, including dates, the names of any witnesses, and any other information relevant to the complaint.
- Specific details regarding the act (or failure to act) that you believe is a violation of the Code of Ethics, Standards or Practice, or legislation governing social work practice. If you have any supporting documentation, please provide copies.
In general, your complaint should include the basic information of "who, what, when, where, why and how."
Please note we cannot accept complaints sent through e-mail or fax. We require original documents and signatures for our files.
How long does the complaints process take?
The goal is to address all complaints in a timely and efficient manner while at the same time ensuring that each complaint is dealt with fairly and balances the rights of the complainant and the member. The time required to address the complaint also is determined by the nature and complexity of the complaint.
Where are complaints sent?
Complaints must be put in writing and directed to:
Chairperson - Professional Conduct Committee
Saskatchewan Association of Social Workers
2110 Lorne Street
Regina, SK S4P 2M5