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A Year Like No Other

On Wednesday, March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared SARS- CoV-2 as a pandemic. Six days later, on March 17th, the Ontario government launched a state of emergency and urged everyone to work from home if possible.


Most essential workers were left on the front lines. They continued to leave the safety of their homes, travelled to work, and engaged face-to-face with clients. Social workers, crisis workers, supervisors and managers, scrambled to re-invent not only how services were delivered but how the workplace was arranged and maintained.

One crisis worker noted that “not only are we dealing with our own stress response to the threat of the pandemic, we are also dealing with the stress of a more difficult work environment, and one that demands rapid, frequent changes”.


In just one example, a CWSO board member noted calls at 310 COPE, the community crisis response for York Region, South Simcoe and North York, have increased at least 25 percent. The severity of calls has also increased with crisis workers reporting more callers experiencing suicidal ideation, debilitating depression, an exacerbation of symptoms generally, and an escalation in conflict at home.


Much is different in our world today and the potential for trauma is great. It’s hard to know where to begin.

As one small step, CWSO is offering members a FREE webinar with Yvette Perreault, an expert on grief and loss in the workplace. Yvette, who worked on the front lines during the AIDS epidemic, spoke at the CWSO 2019 conference to great response. Please mark the date on your calendar. There will be time for questions and more intimate follow up sessions can be scheduled based on demand. All members will receive a link to the webinar via email.

Your Friends at CWSO


When Grief Comes to Work:  Worker Wellness in Complicated Times

Thursday, April 15, 2021

10 am – 12 pm

This session will look at the impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic, alongside the more predicable losses and challenges inherent in this work. Reflections about “complicated times” will be drawn from the experiences of working in the front lines during a previous epidemic - the early years in HIV/AIDS - along with the realities of current shadow pandemics of ongoing overdose deaths, homelessness, poverty, and systemic racism. While there are similarities and lessons learned to be drawn from earlier times, there are also important distinctions in how complex grief and loss are presenting now. This session will discuss the helpfulness of using a theoretical framework for ambiguous, anticipatory, and complicated loss when we are working with our clients and community members.  There will be an opportunity to assess our own current coping strategies and strategies of resilience that emerge when people are faced with extraordinary circumstances.

This webinar has concluded. Presentation materials are available to members in Archives.

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