Who is required to register?

In accordance with The Social Work Profession Act which came into force on April 1, 2015, only those who hold a current Certificate of Practice with the Manitoba College of Social Workers are authorized to use the title Social Worker or represent themselves as Social Workers, either expressly or by implication. Any person who uses the title “Social Worker”, “Registered Social Worker” or represents him/herself as a Social Worker must be registered with the College regardless of job title, position or designation. Additionally, any person who uses any sign, display or advertisement implying they are a Social Worker must be registered with the College.

What is “title protection”?

In Manitoba, only those individuals who are registered as members of the College can refer to themselves as a “Social Worker”, “Registered Social Worker” or any variation of the designation.

What does the prohibition on “holding out” or “representing” oneself as a Social Worker mean?

Only those who are registered as members of the College can represent themselves, expressly or by implication, so as to lead members of the public to conclude that they are Social Workers, Registered Social Workers or registered members of the College.
In determining the need for practitioners to register, the College will consider:

  • the setting in which the individual provides service
  • the nature of the clientele served by the individual
  • the nature of the services provided or offered
  • whether clients believe service is provided by a Social Worker; and
  • whether a reasonable member of the public would infer that the individual is a Social Worker

Why are “title protection” and the prohibitions on “holding out” and “representing” necessary for social workers?

Professional regulation provides the public with the reasonable expectation that those individuals representing themselves as Social Workers have the specialized knowledge and skills required for entry to practice. The primary goal of title protection and professional regulation is to protect the public interest and promote public confidence in the profession of Social Work. The public has a right to know that they are receiving services from competent professionals dedicated to professional accountability who abide by recognized standards of practice and ethical conduct.

Adapted from Perspective, Fall/Winter 2003/2004, Volume 2, Number 1 – Use of Title and Holding Out Provisions with the permission of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers

Who is eligible to become a member of the Manitoba College of Social Workers?

The College will maintain three Registers. These include:

  • Social Worker Register
  • Student Register
  • Corporations Register
Use of Social Worker Designation


The Manitoba College of Social Workers grants the designations “Registered Social Worker” and “Social Worker” to registrants in good standing that signify that you:

  • Are entitled to practice as a Social Worker in Manitoba
  • Possess social work knowledge and skills
  • Are committed to maintaining and increasing professional knowledge through ongoing professional education
  • Belong to a community of qualified and competent professionals committed to adhering to an approved Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice

The designations “Social Worker”, “Registered Social Worker”, “S.W.” and “R.S.W” are important distinctions that the College encourages Practicing Social Workers to use to promote professionalism in social work.

Designations authorized by MCSW are limited to those listed above.


Practicing Social Workers

Social Workers registered in the Practicing category may use the designations: “Social Worker” or “Registered Social Worker” and the initials “SW” or “RSW” following their names. Social Workers are also required to include their highest post-secondary academic credential in his or her professional signature in order to ensure clarity regarding academic qualifications [SWPA Regulation 21(1)]

    i.e. Kate Carter, MSW, RSW

Non-Practicing Social Workers

Those registered in the Non-Practicing Category may represent themselves as Non-Practicing members of the Manitoba College of Social Workers. Since The Social Work Profession Act limits the use of the titles and designations “Social Worker”, “Registered Social Worker”, “SW” or “RSW.” to those who hold a valid Certificate of Practice, Non-Practicing Members must be cautious about the use of the title “Social Worker” so as not to mislead the public that they are currently authorized to practice as a Social Worker.


Those on the Student Register may represent themselves as Social Work Student members of the Manitoba College of Social Workers. Student membership does not authorize the use of the title or representation “Social Worker”, “Registered Social Worker” or the designation “SW” or “RSW”


Social Workers who hold a doctoral degree and who choose to use the title “doctor” may do so but must ensure his or her social work credential is clearly indicated so as not to mislead the public. If practicing in a health care setting, Social Workers with doctoral degrees must be particularly mindful of their representation in order to ensure that the title in that setting does not mislead the public or colleagues, that that he or she is a Doctor of Medicine. [SWPA Regulation 21(2)]


Standards of Practice

The Standards of Practice for Social Workers set out fundamental standards of professional practice for members of the Manitoba College of Social Workers (MCSW). This is in accordance with the vision of MCSW to serve the public interest through the regulation of, and support to, the social work profession in Manitoba (MCSW Bylaw, Article 1-3 – Vision).

While it is recognized that there are variations in practice methods and settings throughout Manitoba, the Standards are intended to apply to a broad scope of Social Work practice. The Standards of Practice describe the basis on which safe, competent and ethical practice is conducted. For each of the Standards, practice directives have been provided to guide Social Workpractice and conduct. All Social Workers and Social Work students are encouraged to be familiar with the Standards of Practice as a significant reference for professional practice and conduct in Manitoba.

Download the Standards of Practice

Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) Information for Social Workers

Federal legislation (Bill C-14) governing Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) came into effect in June 2016. The Manitoba College of Social Workers has developed a reference document for Social Workers related to MAID in response to this legislative change.

MAID Information Summary


Code of Ethics

Ethical behaviour is at the core of every profession. The Manitoba College of Social Workers has adopted the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) Social Work Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Ethical Practice, which consists of 6 core values:

  1. Respect for the Inherent Dignity and Worth of Persons
  2. Pursuit of Social Justice
  3. Service to Humanity
  4. Integrity of Professional Practice
  5. Confidentiality in Professional Practice
  6. Competence in Professional Practice

MCSW Code of Ethics



Practicing Social Worker

All those engaged in the practice of social work as a Social Worker in the province of Manitoba as a paid staff, unpaid staff, under contract, a volunteer or in any other capacity (full-time, part-time, casual) must be registered with the Manitoba College of Social Workers. The practice of social work is defined in The Social Work Profession Act as:
the application of social work knowledge, skills, values and practice methods in a person-in-environment context, with the following objectives:

  1. to accomplish the core functions of social work, including
    helping people obtain services relating to their basic human needs,
    counseling of individuals, families and groups, and
    helping communities and groups provide or improve social and health services
  2. to assess, remediate and prevent social problems encountered by individuals, families and communities;
  3. to enhance individual, family and community social functioning

The scope of practice for Social Workers includes:

Case management Group therapy
Psychosocial assessments & interventions Cultural & spiritual counseling
General counseling Community development & organization
Psychotherapy Child protective services
Relationship counseling Structural social work practice
Child & adolescent therapy Social justice & client advocacy
Family therapy Clinical outcome evaluation
Program planning & development Clinical supervision
Program management Administrative supervision
Program evaluation Consultative services
Policy research & development Social work education
Research Private practice

If you are engaged in activities outlined in the social work scope of practice as a Social Worker, you must be registered in the practicing category.

Non-Practicing Designation

Non-practicing designation is available to eligible applicants who are not currently engaged in the practice of social work in Manitoba as a paid staff, unpaid staff, under contract, a volunteer, or in any other capacity.


Eligibility for application for non-practicing designation may include:

  • Retirement
  • Unemployment
    • Not employed by any employer and not self-employed
  • Leave of absence
    • Parental or other
  • Long-term disability
  • Residing in another jurisdiction

Social Workers registered under Section 11 of The Social Work Profession Act (grandparenting provision) are generally required to maintain registration in the Practicing category.  Exceptions include approved leaves of absence such as parental/sick leaves.

Application Criteria:

A registrant may be granted non-practicing designation where he/she has provided an approved application for the Non-Practicing designation, including a signed declaration that he or she:

  1. will not use the titles “social worker”, “registered social worker” or use the designation “R.S.W.”; and
  2. will not practice social work while in the Non-Practicing category; and
  3. will return their current Certificate of Practice, if applicable; and
  4. will pay the Non-Practicing Category fees

Non-practicing category fees will be applied following approval of applications. Category changes will not be back dated.  Members are encouraged to apply immediately upon eligibility for the non-practicing category.

Download the Non-Practicing Application


Professional Liability Insurance

The Social Work Profession Act (the SWPA) requires that every practicing registrant who holds a Certificate of Practice must be covered by, and maintain, professional liability insurance coverage.

Regulation 22 of the SWPA states:

A member who holds a certificate of practice must (a) be covered by professional liability insurance in an amount required by the College; and (b) promptly notify the registrar if he or she is no longer covered by the required professional liability insurance.

If employed with more than one organization (including private practice), MCSW Practicing registrants must be covered by professional liability insurance at each place of employment.

Registered Social Workers can obtain Professional Liability Insurance in several ways:

  1. In many cases, employers carry liability insurance for their Social Work staff, particularly in government and large institutions. Please check with your employer before purchasing liability insurance.
  2. The Manitoba College of Social Workers is part of a national Professional Liability Insurance program, offered through the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW). As members of both the provincial and national organizations, individual MCSW members have the option of purchasing liability insurance through CASW.
  3. Members can also choose to purchase professional liability insurance from an insurance provider of their choice.

The MCSW Board of Directors has set the required minimum value of insurance at $2,000,000.

All MCSW members are required to abide by the administrative policies, bylaws and regulations of the College, including the requirement to provide the Professional Liability Insurance Declaration Form upon application. The registrar may cancel a Certificate of Practice for failure to meet the renewal requirements (MCSW bylaw 5-1, 5-4.4).

If necessary, the College will provide the member with written notice of their failure to meet renewal requirements (which includes verification of Professional Liability Insurance). A copy of the cancellation notification must also be sent by registered mail to the member’s employer as shown on the records of the College (MCSW bylaw 5-4.4).


Register of Social Workers

There are several routes of entry to become a Registered Social Worker in Manitoba, which include:

ACCREDITED: This route is appropriate for applicants who have graduated from a Canadian university Social Work degree program which has been accredited by the Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE). If you have a Bachelor of Social Work degree, a Master of Social Work degree, or a Doctorate degree in Social Work from an accredited Canadian University, you will apply as an APPLICANT WITH A SOCIAL WORK DEGREE.

APPROVED: This route is appropriate for applicants who have graduated from a Manitoba-based Social Work education program that is not accredited by CASWE but is approved by the College Board. If you are a graduate from the Booth University College Social Work Program, you will apply as an APPLICANT WITH A SOCIAL WORK DEGREE.

Other applicants eligible for the Approved route of entry are graduates from a Social Work degree program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the American Social Work accrediting body. If you have a Social Work degree from an accredited CSWE Program, you will apply as an APPLICANT WITH A SOCIAL WORK DEGREE.

GRANDPARENTED: The Manitoba College of Social Workers has established a “grandparenting” process that recognizes practitioners without formal social work education who are currently functioning as social workers as their principal occupation. These applicants must provide evidence, including employer verification, that they have functioned as a Social Worker safely, competently and ethically for at least 4400 hours in the previous 5 years. The grandparenting route of entry is available to eligible applicants until March 31, 2018. If you wish to apply through this route of entry, you will apply as an APPLICANT WITHOUT A SOCIAL WORK DEGREE.

INTERNATIONAL: Applicants who have completed an international social work education program must complete the International Assessment of Credentials process through the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) prior to applying for registration with the College. Following approval of credentials, you will apply as an APPLICANT WITH A SOCIAL WORK DEGREE.

Registration Categories

The Social Worker register contains three categories of Social Workers:

  • Practicing Social Workers: This category is appropriate for registrants who are currently functioning in a Social Work capacity and/or refer to themselves as “Social Workers” or “Registered Social Workers.”
  • Non-practicing Registrants: This category includes Social Workers on Parental Leaves, Leaves of Absence, retired Social Workers or those residing in another jurisdiction. Members in this category cannot refer to themselves either verbally or in writing as “Registered Social Workers”, “Social Workers” or use the designation “RSW”, but rather must use the term “non-practicing registrant” or “non-practicing social worker” to describe their status while in this category.
  • Temporary Social Workers: Temporary registration is available to those who are registered as a practicing Social Worker in another jurisdiction who wish to temporarily practice in Manitoba or with clients from Manitoba. Temporary registration is limited to a period not exceeding 90 days per registration year.


Social Work Corporations

This register is for individuals in private practice who wish to incorporate their practice. A corporation whose name contains the words “social worker”, “social workers”, “registered social worker”, or “registered social workers”, or the initials “S.W.” or “R.S.W.” must not carry on any business in the province of Manitoba unless it holds a valid permit with the College.


Fee Information

Manitoba College of Social Workers Fee Schedule (as of April 1, 2015)

Application fees (non-refundable)

Social Worker $100
Social Work Corporation $100

Annual fees

Each registrant must pay to the College an annual fee due on March 1st of each year, in the following amounts:

Social Worker (Practicing) $360
New Graduate (Practicing) $240
*Social Worker (temporary) $30/mo (effective the 1st day of each month) $30/mth
Non-Practicing Member $180
Social Work Student $20
Social Work Corporation $360

*for those who are registered as practicing social workers in another jurisdiction who wish to temporarily practice in Manitoba


Fee Payment Policy

Transferring between Categories

Members of the College who transfer between the Practicing and Non-Practicing categories during a registration year, will be required to pay the pro-rated monthly fees in each category. Any month in which a registrant has practiced, will be considered a month in which the Practicing fees shall apply.

NSF Cheques

A $50 fee will be applied in the event of returned/NSF cheques.

Late Payment of Fees

Full payment of fees are due March 1st of each year. Fees received between March 2nd and March 31st will be subject to an administrative late fee of $75 (including post-dated cheques after March 1st).


If fees are not received in full by March 31st registration will be cancelled.


Former registrants may apply for reinstatement within 3 months of cancellation. The reinstatement fee of $150 is in addition to the annual registration fee.


There are no refunds for application or registration fees.

In accordance with subsection 5-2.2 of the MCSW by-law, the board and/or the registrar may at its discretion waive or reduce any fee or assessment payable by an applicant, member or student.



Benefits of Membership

Becoming a Social Worker Registered with the Manitoba College of Social Workers

Registration with the Manitoba College of Social Workers is a professional and legal responsibility for Social Workers as outlined in The Social Work Profession Act. Only those individuals registered with the Manitoba College of Social Workers have the legal right to use the title “Social Worker”, “Registered Social Worker” and/or represent themselves as Social Workers in Manitoba. Registered Social Workers are recognized as ethical and competent professionals who practice within recognized practice standards and who value public accountability.

Additional benefits to registration include:

  • Access to professional development opportunities geared specifically to Social Workers
  • Membership in provincial, national and international social work organizations that:
    • support professional regulation
    • promote the profession of social work
    • advocate for social justice
  • Professional Networking
    • registered Social Workers can expand their collegial networks through participation in the organization. Membership in MCSW offers a number of ways to develop your leadership skills and to network with Social Work colleagues.
  • Opportunities to honour excellence in Social Work
    • in March of each year, Social Workers throughout Manitoba celebrate National Social Work Week in recognition of the contributions of Social Workers to society. Nationally, the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) also celebrates Social Work Month every March.
    • the CASW Distinguished Service Award (MB) is granted to an MCSW member or group of members who has made a significant contribution to the profession of Social Work. The recipient(s) of the Distinguished Service Award is usually honoured during Social Work Week, which takes place in March of each year.
  • Access to Professional Liability Insurance Program



Social Workers are obligated to practice safely, competently and ethically in accordance with the Manitoba College of Social Workers Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. One key role of the College is to consider and investigate complaints made by any member of the public (including clients, colleagues, and employers) regarding the conduct of Social Workers registered with the College. Because its primary mandate is to protect the public interest, the College has a responsibility to assess all complaints, ensuring a fair and just process.

If there are concerns about the actions or behaviour of a Social Worker in Manitoba, the first step is for the concerned individual to talk to the Social Worker directly in an attempt to resolve the concern, if possible. If unable to resolve the problem with the Social Worker or their Supervisor, the next step is to confirm that the person is registered with the Manitoba College of Social Workers by checking the online Register of Social Workers.

The Manitoba College of Social Workers has the authority to investigate written complaints relating to the conduct of a member of the College. The College may not have jurisdiction to investigate a complaint concerning conduct that occurred before the practitioner was registered with the College or after the person is no longer registered with the College.

Who may make a complaint?

Anyone can make a complaint against a Social Worker in Manitoba who is registered with the College. This may include a client, another Social Worker, an employer, another professional or someone else in the community.

When must a complaint be made?

There is generally no time limit in which to make a complaint; however, a delay in making a complaint may affect the process. For example, a lengthy delay may result in relevant documents or witnesses to be unavailable, which may impact the investigation and resolution of the complaint.

In the event that a complaint is made against a former member of the College the complaint must relate to conduct that occurred while the individual was registered as a Social Worker and be reported within 5 years of the last date of the member’s former registration.

What if a complaint concerns more than one member of the College?

A separate complaint must be filed in connection with the conduct or actions of each Social Worker.

Is the complaint process confidential?

Yes, with a few exceptions. Relevant information or documents you share with the College will also be shared with the Social Worker. This is so that both the Complainant and the Social Worker can respond to information that will be reviewed by the Complaints Committee. As part of the complaints process, Social Workers may disclose pertinent confidential information when required to respond to a formal allegation of misconduct.

Although the College aims to maintain confidentiality in investigations, there are occasions when information or documents provided are shared with relevant collaterals in order to gather information to inform the investigation.    Should the matter be referred to the Inquiry Committee, any documents or information provided during the course of a complaints investigation may be used at a hearing, which is open to the public.

Submitting a complaint

  • Complaints must be submitted in writing and be signed by the person making the complaint. A complaint submission must include:
  • Name and contact information (address and telephone numbers) of the person making the complaint.
  • Name of the Social Worker who is the subject of the complaint.
  • A statement regarding the conduct or actions of the Social Worker with sufficient details including;
  • a description of the conduct or actions of the Social Worker giving rise to the complaint,
  • the date(s), time(s), and place(s) of the event or events giving rise to the complaint, if known.
  • Any documentation that could support the allegations, the names of any person who can attest to the allegations and any other relevant information.
  • The signature of the person making the complaint.

Are lawyers required to represent complainants/Social Workers?

The decision to obtain legal counsel is left to the discretion of the complainant and Social Worker involved. Legal counsel is not required in order to submit or respond to a complaint made to the Manitoba College of Social Workers.

What happens after the written complaint is received by the College?

If the complaint is regarding a member or former member of the College and eligible for review (see When must a complaint be made?), the matter is referred to the Complaints Committee.   The Social Worker who is the subject of a complaint is also notified and provided a copy of the complaint. Social Workers are required to respond to the College regarding complaints made against them within a specified time frame.  The Complaints Committee may request additional information from the complainant following receipt of the initial complaint.

Who reviews complaints?

Complaints brought against Social Workers are reviewed by the College Complaints Committee, which is comprised of members of the College and public members. Depending on the complexity of the matter the Complaints Committee may appoint an investigator.

Does the individual who filed the complaint or the Social Worker complained against meet with the Complaints Committee?

Neither the individual who filed the complaint nor the Social Work complained against is entitled to meet with the Complaints Committee. Interviews are arranged at the discretion of the Committee.

What decisions can be made by the Complaints Committee?

According to Sections 30(1) and 31(1) of The Social Work Profession Act the Complaints Committee has the authority to take any of the following actions:

  • resolve the matter informally
  • direct that the matter to the Inquiry Committee
  • accept the voluntary surrender of the member’s registration
  • censure the member (formal reprimand)
  • refer the matter to mediation if the Committee determines that the complaint is strictly a matter of concern to the complainant and the member and both parties agree to mediation
  • enter into an agreement with the member that provides for one or more of the following:
    • assessing the member’s capacity or fitness to practice social work,
    • counselling or treatment of the member,
    • monitoring or supervising the member’s practice of social work,
    • completion of a specified course of studies by way of remedial training,
    • placing conditions on the member’s right to practice social work.

Please be advised that it can take several months for a complaint to be investigated and reviewed before a decision is made depending on the complexity of the complaint.

Can the College Complaints Committee award money or provide a personal remedy to a complainant?

No. There is no such provision for such remedies in the Act, the Regulations or the Bylaws.

Dismissal of a complaint

A complaint may be dismissed if there is insufficient evidence to support the allegations or where the allegations, even if true, do not constitute unprofessional conduct. If a complaint is dismissed, both the Complainant and the Social Worker will be advised in writing that no further action will be taken.

What is an Agreement?

In some cases, the Social Worker may enter into an Agreement in order to resolve the complaint. An Agreement is a contract between the Social Worker and the College to resolve issues arising from the complaint.  An Agreement may include, but are not limited to, additional training, counseling/treatment or a period of mandated supervision.

When an Agreement is reached with a Social Worker, the Complainant shall be made aware of that decision. If the allegation is not satisfactorily resolved through an Agreement, or if the Social Worker fails to comply with the terms of the agreement, the matter will return to the Complaints Committee for review.

What happens if a complaint is referred to the Inquiry Committee?

A complaint that is considered very serious and/or a complaint that cannot be resolved through an Agreement may be referred to the Inquiry Committee, which is made up of members of the College and members of the public. The role of the Inquiry Committee panel is to hear and determine any allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence on the part of a member of the College. If a matter is referred to the Inquiry Committee, there will be a formal hearing of the complaint.

Complainants do not need to hire legal counsel. However, complainants may have to testify as a witness at a disciplinary hearing.

What decisions can be made by the Inquiry Committee?

  • If the Inquiry Committee panel finds that the member is not guilty of Unprofessional Conduct, it shall dismiss the charge.
  • Where the Inquiry Committee panel finds that the member is guilty of Unprofessional Conduct, it may, according to Section 52(1) of the Act:
  • Reprimand the member
  • Suspend the certificate of registration for a stated period
  • Suspend the member’s Certificate of Registration until he or she has completed a specified course of studies or supervised practical experience or both, to the satisfaction of any person or committee that the panel may determine
  • Accept in place of the suspension of the Certificate of Registration, the member’s undertaking to limit his or her practice
  • Impose conditions on the member’s entitlement to practice social work, including conditions that he or she
    • Practice under supervision
    • Report on specified matters to any person or committee that the panel may determine
  • Require the member to satisfy a person or committee specified by the panel that a disability or addiction can be or has been overcome, and suspend the member’s Certificate of Registration until the person or committee is satisfied
  • Require the member to take counseling or treatment
  • Cancel the Certificate of Registration

Is there an appeals process?

There is a right of appeal for complainants who disagree with a decision of the College Complaints Committee. In order to appeal, a complainant must provide written notice of appeal to the College Registrar within 30 days after the date the complainant is given notice of the decision.

Social Workers may appeal a finding or order by the Inquiry Committee panel to the Court of Appeal within 30 days from the date the Social Worker is given notice of the decision.