Social Workers

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Social workers

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Social workers work with individuals, families, groups and communities to enhance their individual and collective well-being. Social workers advocate for social justice, human rights and equitable access to health and social services. They provide counselling, therapy and problem-solving interventions and assist individuals in gaining access to information and resources (for example, community support programs). In addition, they address broader social issues such as oppression, discrimination, domestic violence, unemployment and poverty.

For more detailed and printable information, please refer to Canada's Health Care Providers, 2000 to 2009—A Reference Guide  (full report).

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Practice Setting

Social workers are usually employed in hospitals, community health centres, mental-health clinics, schools, advocacy organizations, government departments, social-service agencies, child-welfare settings, family-service agencies, correctional facilities, social housing organizations, family courts, employee-assistance and private counselling programs, school boards and consultation agencies.


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Regulatory Environment

The table below indicates the first year in which it became mandatory for social workers to register with a provincial regulatory body as a condition of practice.


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Practice Criteria

To work/practise as a social worker, one must meet the following requirements:

  • Hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in social work from an accredited program or equivalent, except in Alberta where a diploma is accepted or in Saskatchewan where a certificate in social work or a certificate in Indian social work from the University of Regina is accepted.
  • Pass the licensing examination through the Association of Social Work Boards (applicable in some provinces).
  • Register with a provincial regulatory body as required.

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Education Requirements

A bachelor’s degree in social work or equivalent is currently the entry-to-practice requirement for a social worker in most provinces except in Alberta where a diploma is accepted, or in Saskatchewan where a certificate in social work or a certificate in Indian social work from the University of Regina is accepted. A master’s degree is also accepted. The following table provides a comprehensive list of programs accredited by the Canadian Association for Social Work Education.

Internationally Educated Social workers

To practise in Canada, an internationally educated social worker must meet the following requirements:

  • Contact the relevant regulatory body within the chosen province for assessment and recognition of credentials, including language proficiency for registration and other licensing requirements.
  • Pass the licensing examination through the Association of Social Work Boards (applicable in some provinces).
  • Register with a provincial regulatory body as required.

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Supply Trends


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Demographic Trends


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Graduate Trends


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Use CIHI's accessibility request form to request CIHI documentation in an accessible format.