Registered Social Workers are committed to providing competent, ethical and professional services and are accountable for their professional practices.
There are times, however, when clients or others may have a complaint about the practice of a Registered Social Worker.
As part of its mandate to protect the public interest, the Registration Board is authorized under the Social Workers Act to investigate complaints about Registered Social Workers.
What is a complaint?
A complaint is an expression of a concern or dissatisfaction about the conduct or actions of a Registered Social Worker relating to professional misconduct or incompetence.
This may also include a failure to comply with standards of practice or a disorder affecting the fitness to practice social work.
Who may make a complaint?
Anyone can make a written complaint about a Registered Social Worker.
This may be a:
- a relative of a client
- another social worker
- another professional
- or someone else in the community.
The Inquiry Committee may also, on its own motion, investigate a registrant.
How is a complaint made?
A complaint must be made in writing and delivered to the Registrar. It should include detailed information, providing the name and workplace of the Registered Social Worker, and describe what happened and why the person making the complaint is concerned.
It is important to include:
- the date(s);
- the time(s);
- the place(s) of the events, if possible.
The mailing address for submitting the complaint is:
PEI Social Work Registration Board
81 Prince Street, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4R3
What is the process?
The Registrar will receive the complaint and forward it to the Inquiry Committee. The Registrar will also inform the Registered Social Worker about receipt of the complaint and will usually provide a copy of the complaint.
The Inquiry Committee will investigate the complaint. The Registered Social Worker will be given a full opportunity to provide any evidence and response he/she wishes. The Registered Social Worker is entitled to engage legal counsel throughout the process. No decision will be made until the Registered Social Worker has had adequate time to respond. This process may take several months.
After the investigation is complete, the Inquiry Committee will review all information about the complaint and then:
- take no further action;
- take any action it considers appropriate to resolve the matter, including entering into an agreement with the Registered Social Worker;
- direct that a citation be issued which leads to a formal hearing of the matter.
When the Inquiry Committee determines that misconduct or incompetence may have occurred, they may propose to enter an agreement with the Registered Social Worker.
The focus of such an agreement is educational, with the intent of developing a plan whereby the Registered Social Worker will take action to improve his/her practice. This fits with the focus of professional regulation, which is to protect the public.
If a citation is issued, a hearing panel of the Board will hold a formal hearing adhering to principles of fairness and natural justice. On completion of the hearing the panel may:
- dismiss the matter; or
- set terms and conditions for the continuation of the registration of the Registered Social Worker; or
- suspend or cancel the registration of the Registered Social Worker.
No damages or compensation can be awarded to the person making the complaint.
How confidential is this process?
Information that a complaint has been received about a Registered Social Worker is not public. However, The Registration Board cannot guarantee full confidentiality throughout the investigative process as some information or documents may be provided to witnesses for comment.
If a citation is issued to hold a hearing, this is public information and a hearing is a public process. The decision of a hearing panel will be provided to all registrants and, in some cases, to social work organizations. Neither the Board nor the Registrar will release the names of complainants, clients, or their families or identifying information.
All records of the Inquiry Committee and any hearing panel are kept for at least 7 years and may be kept longer.
The PEISWRB is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.