Significant early developments leading toward the establishment of a professional Social Work Association in Nova Scotia

In 1961 the CASW laid the foundation for the provincial association with its policy of encouraging its branches to form provincial bodies all across the country. This would mean a change of structure for CASW from an organization of individual memberships to a federation of provincial associations. Eventually provincial legislation was drafted and approved by members of the Nova Scotia and the Cape Breton branches and proclaimed by the Nova Scotia Legislature creating the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers in 1963.

In an interview with Dr. Fred MacKinnon on May 24, 2004 with Bessie Harris, RSW, the Nova Scotia Branch of the CASW was formed in 1943. Dr. MacKinnon was the first President of the Branch. Dr. MacKinnon initiated the formation of a CASW Branch because he"... wanted to develop a group of people with a commitment to making social work a viable, acceptable profession in Nova Scotia". Dr. MacKinnon recalled that a prominant issue facing the profession at that time was how much technical information from other disciplines, such as medicine, should be adapted to social work education. He recalled that social work students were against this idea.

Organizing members of the Branch were: Ada Ward (YMCA); Gwen Lantz (CAS of Halifax); Elizabeth Torrey (CAS of Cape Breton); Phyllis Burns; Frances Montgomery; Lawrence Hancock; Jean Morrison.  

A summary of key accomplishments by the NSASW ( 1963 – 2010):

  1.  First meeting of the NSASW Board of Examiners held on October 23, 1963. ( RG 72, Volume 3, File #2.)
  2.  First official meeting of the NSASW was held on October 30, 1963 and the first officers of the association were appointed.Tom Blue was President, Cameron MacDougall was Vice-President and Doreen Gillan was Secretary.( NSARM (RG 72, vol.3, file #2)
  3.  First NSASW General Meeting - May 23, 1964 – President Thomas Blue reported the two CASW Branches were meeting as one with the new provincial association ( RG 72 – Volume 15 File #7)
  4. First issue of the NSASW Newsletter was mentioned as occurring in 1966. ( National Archives, Volume 32, File #12)
  5. NSASW Mainland Branch AGM of May 16, 1967 mentions a report that the Shelburne School for Boys not be located in Shelburne. (RG 72, Volume 18, File #9)
  6. NSASW Brief supporting the amalgamation of the MSSW with Dalhousie University – March 6, 1968 ( NSASW Archived material – see Dr. MacKinnon’s records – beige file folder)
  7. Brief to the Hospital Insurance Commission dated November 11, 1969, recommending a social work consultant be appointed to the staff of the commission found in the Newsletter of 1969. ( National Archives material in Volume 32, File #12 in NSASW - AGM minutes.)
  8. Brief by NSASW to the Legislative Select Committee on Landlord-Tennant Relations dated March 17, 1970 sent to Premier G.I. Smith (RG 72, Volume 72, File #4)
  9. Letter dated August 10, 1972 to the NSASW membership announcing malpractice insurance coverage by Royal Insurance. This may have been the first such coverage in Canada for social workers. ( RG 72, Volume 71, File #16)
  10. Brief to the Commission on Special Protection Services – November 15, 1972 ( RG 72, Volume 32, File #11).
  11. Submission of the Report of the Committee on Registration at the NSASW annual General Meeting of May 1974 (RG 72, Volume 111, File #15)
  12. Dissolution of the NSASW Atlantic Branch (fomerly the Mainland Branch) on May 5, 1975 due to lack of member participation ( RG 72, Volume 124, File #4)
  13. Brief to the Committee on Health Professional Licensure dated January, 1978. Message was that our profession should not be included in the proposed legislation. Brief was prepared by Sharon O'Connor, RSW.
  14. During the 1980's the Association was in the middle of the prominant social justice debates of the time and made a concerted effort to respond to Family Benefits policy; social assistance rates; mental health issues; housing; day care ; child welfare; single parents and women's issues.
  15. A report to proceed toward licensure was approved by a special meeting of NSASW on October 14, 1989. (NSASW Archived material – see box #4, NSASW archives)
  16. Cameron MacDougall prepared a background paper dated June 3, 1991 outlining the history of events leading up to licensure for NSASW. (Marilyn Peers' licensing file, NSASW Archives, Licensing Committee records)
  17. Licensure as a form of social work regulation was approved by the membership and passed in the Nova Scotia Legislature in November 1993.
  18. The nine member volunteer Board of Examiners reported during 1996 on their massive undertaking to process over eleven hundred applications from eligible grandparented and applicants with social work degrees. It was through the dedicated efforts of these volunteers that the Association was able to implement the new legislation without serious difficulty.
  19. A professional development agreement with the Dalhousie School of Social Work Continuing Education program was approved by a special meeting of the NSASW on October 29, 1994. ( NSASW Archive Material, Box #4).
  20. Membership grew steadily from 596 members prior to licensure in 1993 to 1,432 in 2002. This growth was also reflected in hiring of additional full and part-time staff as well as expanding office space to accomodate the increases.
  21. During the 2000's decade the Association embarked on several studies and analyses of the profession in Nova Scotia. Membership surveys; a Quality of Work survey; a Supply and demand survey; and a review of operational structure. All of these analyses set the stage for new directions for the Association in the next decade.