Social Services

The social services sector continues to face challenges in delivering its core services while operating in a framework of increasing fiscal restraint. With budgetary and government funding pressures, human resources and labour relations matters – such as collective bargaining – grow in their complexity.

Many social services employers must also contend with potential and actual changes in how they do business, whether through government-mandated mergers, shared services arrangements, or other large scale restructurings. These changes can have a significant impact on both going operations and on human resources and labour relations.

With our extensive experience in working with clients in the social services sector, our Social Services practice group understands these challenges and is always mindful of the primacy of our clients’ service mandate – to support and protect the most vulnerable members of society.

We recognize that issues in this sector can rarely be viewed in simple “employer/employee” or “employer/union” terms – and are keenly aware of the political, cultural and socio-economic dynamics that are at work whenever legal issues arise. We are also mindful of the practical realities of our clients’ operations and strive to provide advice that is not only helpful, but cost-effective.


  • Children’s Aid Societies
  • Family counselling organizations
  • Children’s and youth services centres
  • Community Living organizations and other services for the developmentally disabled
  • Seniors’ services
  • Women’s shelters and crisis centres
  • Immigrant and cross-cultural organizations
  • Local organizations providing services to those in need of assistance


We apply a creative and strategic approach to the broad range of human resources and advocacy offerings we provide to social services employers, including:

  • participation in collective bargaining negotiations and collective agreement interpretation and administration
  • representation of employers at arbitration hearings, labour board disputes and wrongful dismissal proceedings
  • advice on human rights matters and representing employers at human rights tribunal hearings for both employment-related and service-related complaints
  • advice on issues related to accommodation and diversity, employment standards, attendance management and occupational health and safety
  • advice on service and employment contracts, structuring and documentation of severance packages, resolution of pay equity issues and handling of freedom of information requests
  • consultation on policy development and analysis

We work collaboratively with social services sector associations such as OASIS, speaking frequently at association conferences and keeping their officials and members up-to-date on the legal issues that affect them. We also publish Reaching Out – a periodic newsletter specifically dealing with issues of significance to our social services clients.