Lauren Buckley tries to reserve two nights a week for life away from her job.
It doesn’t always work, but it has helped her maintain some semblance of balance during an 18-year career as a child-welfare worker assessing troubled families. "I like the work," said Buckley, an intake worker for Waterloo Region Family and Children’s Services. "There is just too much of it."
That was a common refrain during a recent survey of more than 1,000 social workers in a range of fields throughout the province.
It suggested many of them are overworked and feeling the effects of it, with almost two-thirds of respondents reporting significant stress.
The survey was conducted by the Ontario Association of Social Workers to push for better salaries, benefits and working conditions.
Joan MacKenzie Davies, executive director of the association, said the results confirmed anecdotal accounts of the impact of increasing workloads and less administrative support for front-line workers.
The survey also found:
- Almost three-quarters of social workers do unpaid work every week.
- Almost six in 10 reported feeling rushed.
- Almost four in 10 reported depression.
- Most are satisfied with their careers despite the demands.
There are about 16,000 social workers in Ontario working in schools, hospitals, mental health facilities, seniors homes, prisons and other fields.