The history of the Association is also connected closely with the Department of Community Services through the career of Fred MaKinnon from 1939 to 1980.
In the early days, the Children’s Aid Societies needed an injection of professionally educated social workers but there were few such individuals available in Nova Scotia and people who were sent to other provinces to receive the much needed education rarely returned to Nova Scotia. Fred MacKinnon was a firm believer in the value of professional social work education and when approached by Dr. Samuel Prince regarding the establishment of a School of Social Work pledged his support for such an endeavour. In 1941 under the tutelage of Dr. Samuel Prince, Mr. Ernest H. Blois and other notables the Maritime School of Social Work was founded. Fred MacKinnon was one of the founders and remained a great supporter of the School throughout his career. He also taught at the School from 1941 until the early 1970s.
Although there was a Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW), Nova Scotia did not have an organized social work community in the early forties. In 1943 Fred MacKinnon along with Gwendolyn Shand, Gwendolyn Lantz, Jean Morrison, Ada Ward and Elizabeth Torrey founded the Nova Scotia Branch of the CASW. Fred was the first President and maintained an interest in the Association of Social Workers throughout his life and was a life member of the NSASW. In 1944 Fred MacKinnon became Director of Child Welfare replacing Ernest H. Blois who became Deputy Minister of a newly created Department of Public Welfare. When Mr. Blois retired in 1947, Fred became Deputy Head of the Department along with his colleague, Hiram Farquhar. Mr. Farquhar was responsible for Old Age Pensions and Blind Persons Allowance while Fred MacKinnon was responsible for Child Welfare and Mothers’ Allowance. Fred Mackinnon remained in this position until 1959 when he was appointed Deputy Minister of the Department.
A review of the files indicated that in the early decades the relationship between government and the Association was a somewhat symbiotic one. As a common goal they both sought social justice. In those early years that translated in a major way into the quest for the abolition of the Elizabethan Poor Law. There were strong advocates for its abolition in both the private and public sectors but the general public had an adverse reaction to its abolition as did successive governments. Attitudes toward the poor (regardless of the reason for the impoverishment), the financial implications related to change, as well as other factors, all played a part in delaying change. The Association was an instrument which could be used to speak out and fight for change.