NAPE celebrates National Social Work Month: Concern about workload, stress, strain

“We have real concerns about the impact that the workloads, stress, and strain of their jobs is having on our members.” — Jerry Earle, NAPE President

St. John's (08 March 2019) — March is National Social Work Month in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is a special time to recognize the demanding and important work that social workers perform every day in communities across the province.

The theme of Social Work Month 2019 is Real People. Real Impact

The Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE/NUPGE) proudly represents over 600 social workers who, through the training and crucial services they deliver, contribute to a better life for some of the province’s most vulnerable individuals.

“This theme is an important one to remember; every social worker is a real person who is doing their utmost to have a real impact on others’ lives,” said Jerry Earle, NAPE President. “Social workers give so much of themselves in the face of overwhelming workloads, threats of violence, expanded responsibilities, and the stress and strain from the emotional and physical toll that their work has on them.”

“Despite these obstacles, social workers continue to provide quality care and support for our province’s most vulnerable because they want to make a difference. They want to change people’s lives and make our communities, our province, and our world a little better every day,” said Earle.

Doing more with less creates significant risks for social workers

In a recent survey of NAPE members:

  • 40% of social workers indicated that they find their work to be very or extremely stressful.
  • 22% indicated that they often do not feel safe at work.
  • 35% said that they had experienced/witnessed a violent incident, assault and/or threatening behaviour at work in the past 6 months.
  • 85% indicated that their workload has increased a little or a lot in the past 5 years.
  • 60% said that their workload increased a lot during that timeframe.

“We have real concerns about the impact that the workloads, stress, and strain of their jobs is having on our members,” said Earle. “We have heard from a large number of social workers who are really struggling. We have reached out to Lisa Dempster, Minister of the Department of Children, Seniors and Social Development on this concern. To her credit, the Minister met with us in short order and has been working with us to address concerns and to try to find ways to improve working conditions for social workers. We continue to work through this process and are hopeful it will lead to improved outcomes for our members.”