In recent years, in Canada and internationally, there has been an increased interest in workforce development issues in the field of addictions, stemming from a growing need to ensure services are being delivered in accordance with the highest possible standards and practices, while creating supportive and satisfying work experiences for those who are employed in this demanding work.
This led CCSA to conduct the first-ever national survey of treatment agency/service directors and front-line staff to determine their level and type of education and professional development experiences, identify training and professional development needs, and explore factors that influence their ability to provide services of the highest quality. Results of a confidential mail survey, conducted from May to November 2004, are contained in the March 2005 report, Optimizing Canada's Addiction Treatment Workforce: Results of a National Survey of Service Providers.
The Workforce Survey made a total of 10 recommendations spread over the categories of "leadership and supportive strategies", "training and education", and "research".
These recommendations have helped guide workforce activities at CCSA on several fronts including:
Objectives of the Survey
The Survey had five key objectives:
Examine inter-regional and inter-sectoral differences in educational and training experiences of clinical staff in specialized addiction treatment programs with various types and levels of work experience;
Determine expectations of program managers across regions and sectors for levels of education and training among staff with various levels of work experience;
Describe experiences across regions and sectors with respect to staff recruitment and retention;
Determine views of service providers across regions and sectors on various issues pertaining to professional development; and
Determine the views of service providers across regions and sectors on various options for enhancing the capacity of addiction treatment programs.
Survey Design and Methodology
The survey targeted random samples of agencies/services in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, and all eligible agencies/services in other provinces and in the Northwest Territories. Two hundred and eighty-one (281) agencies/services were surveyed along with 2,720 staff working in these agencies/services. Completed questionnaires were received from 170 (60%) executive directors/service heads and 1,214 (44.6%) other staff. Responses were received from a large number of individuals in all regions and are viewed as providing a reasonably valid picture of professional development issues facing substance abuse treatment agencies in most parts of Canada.