On July 6, 2020, the legislature of Alberta introduced Bill 30: Health Statutes Amendment Act, 2020 (the “Bill”). This omnibus piece of legislation proposes amendments to a number of statutes across the health sector, repeals the Health Governance Transition Act, and dissolves the Provincial Health Authorities of Alberta.
According to Alberta’s Health Minister, Tyler Shandro, the Bill is intended to strengthen Alberta’s public health care system and improve people’s access to the health services that they need.
If passed, the Bill will amend nine pieces of health legislation in Alberta. The following is a summary of some of the key changes proposed.
Alberta’s Health Care Insurance Act (“AHCIA”)
The Bill broadens the scope of persons that can receive payment for insured services under the AHCIA. The intent and effect of this amendment is to allow physicians to enter into service agreements in favour of the current fee-for-service billing model.
Health Care Protection Act
The Bill renames this act the Health Facilities Act. The proposed Bill limits the number of factors that the Minister or a person designated by the Minister must assess in response to a request to provide surgical services. It also removes the requirement that approval for such facilities be by way of Ministerial Order. Approval under the proposed Bill may be provided “in writing”.
Health Professions Act
The Bill amends the Health Professions Act to increase the required percentage of public members within a council, a hearing tribunal, a complaint review committee, or a panel of any one of them from 25% to 50%.
Health Quality Council of Alberta Act
The Bill amends the Health Quality Council of Alberta Act, expanding the mandate of the Health Quality Council of Alberta to include “person-centred care”. This is defined in the Bill as care that:
(i) supports a person in acquiring the information and skills needed to make decisions about the person’s health care,
(ii) acknowledges and respects the values of the person,
(iii) focuses not only on the person but also on the person’s family and caregivers, if any, and health care service providers, and
(iv) includes prevention and health promotion activities.
It also (i) allows the Minister to appoint the board of directors under the Health Quality Council of Alberta Act, rather than the Lieutenant Governor in Council; (ii) requires the board to make an annual report to the Minister, rather than to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly; (iii) creates a new requirement that Council submit to the Minister for approval each year a plan setting out its anticipated activities, expenditures and funding; and (iv) enables the Minister to make regulations under the Health Quality Council of Alberta Act, rather than the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
The Bill makes changes to who can be appointed to the Hospital Privileges Appeal Board, eliminating the requirement that one member be a member of a board of an approved hospital. It also allows members to be appointed for a second three-year term.
Public Health Act
The Bill amends the Public Health Act by clarifying that it is not just people returning to Alberta that need to quarantine for 14 days. The Bill stipulates that, so long as orders are in effect, all people entering Alberta after travelling internationally need to quarantine, so long as orders are in effect.
Regional Health Authorities Act
The Bill adds new recitals to the Regional Health Authorities Act. In addition to recognizing Alberta Health Services as Alberta’s single health authority, the recitals recognize the role of Covenant Health as Alberta’s largest provider of faith-based services and a key strategic partner in Alberta’s integrated health system.
The amendments to the Regional Health Authorities Act also clarify obligations for Alberta Health Services when it contracts out services, and allow the Minister to make regulations respecting such contracts.