Letter to the Editor: Globe and Mail
The Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW) read today’s news of UHN’s new affordable housing initiative with interest and applauds all of the groups involved.
As the largest group of regulated health professionals providing psychotherapy and counselling services in the province, Ontario’s social workers serve many of Ontario’s most vulnerable, and have seen firsthand the intimate link between access to housing and physical health and social well-being. OASW has been leading the way in this area, and has been proud to partner with several Toronto-based hospitals on a project placing social workers in Emergency Departments to help patients better navigate the health care system and connect them with community supports, such as housing. These pilot projects, including a successful partnership with UHN at their Toronto General Hospital and Toronto Western Hospital in 2015, helped reduce hospital admissions by 136 and 221 patients at each hospital respectively, while achieving $1.4 million in cost savings for the health care system. Addressing social determinants of health are imperative to moving the dial on emergency department overcrowding and keeping high-needs patients out of the hospital.
Having more housing available through projects like UHN’s new affordable housing initiative is crucial to ensuring even more patients get the right care in the right place at the right time. Projects like this are long overdue and this is a great step forward. Ontario’s social workers commend these partners for this great work and stand as committed partners in delivery of high quality, cost-effective and timely mental health care for all Ontarians.
Deepy Sur, MSW, PhD, RSW
Chief Executive Officer
OASW is the voice of social work in Ontario. It is a voluntary, bilingual, non-profit association representing approximately 5,800 social workers. All members have a university degree in social work at the bachelor, master or doctoral level. OASW works to actively speak on behalf of social workers on issues of interest to the profession and advocates for the improvement of social policies and programs directly affecting social work practice and client groups served.