Alberta Health Act proclaimed
The Redford government is establishing a Health Advocate to provide additional services to Albertans and their families and help them navigate the province’s health care system.
With the proclamation of the Alberta Health Act, the government is establishing a Health Charter, which sets out the government’s commitment to the principles of the Canada Health Act. The government will also set up a Health Advocate’s office, which will assist Albertans in navigating the health system.
As each advocate role deals primarily with health care issues, the Mental Health Patient Advocate and new Seniors’ Advocate will be consolidated into the Health Advocate’s office, which will improve collaboration, reduce duplication and streamline administration.
The Alberta Health Act will come into force on January 1, 2014, when government will be appointing a Health Advocate. Consultations on the draft Health Charter and draft Health Advocate regulations will occur in January 2014.
The new office, including all advocate roles, will be fully operational by April 1, 2014.
“This is a very significant piece of legislation for Albertans and the health system and will enshrine our commitment to the Canada Health Act. Having made significant investments to advance all areas of health care, we are making it easier for Albertans to understand what services are available and how to access them.”
“The number and type of programs and services available in Alberta have been growing with our population and an increasing number of people are accessing the province’s health care system. It is clear by the number of inquiries we receive each day that an advocate role would provide increased assistance to Albertans and their families in understanding how the health care system works and how to navigate it.”
“Having recently visited over 20 seniors’ facilities across Alberta and talked with residents and staff over the past few weeks, one of the biggest issues I heard was that people need help accessing services. By installing a Seniors’ Advocate role in government, the advocate will have the resources and authority needed to help people navigate the system and make the recommendations necessary to improve access and care.”
The proposed Health Act regulation will outline duties and authorities of the Health Advocate, requirements for complaint reviews, set out parameters for how reviews can be conducted, and set out requirements regarding records management and confidentiality.
The Health Advocate’s duties will include:
- assisting Albertans in navigating the health system and linking patients and their families to providers or services;
- receiving and referring complaints and requesting investigations through appropriate channels; and,
- leading implementation, including education and public awareness, of the health charter.
The Seniors’ Advocate’s role will include:
- requesting inspections, investigations, and quality and safety assessments related to care provided in seniors’ facilities as laid out in Alberta law;
- referring concerns and complaints to the appropriate channels;
- providing information and referrals to seniors, their families, and caregivers regarding government-funded seniors’ health, continuing care, and social support programs and services; and,
- providing public education on the rights, interests, and needs of seniors.
The Mental Health Patient Advocate’s responsibilities will continue as provided by the Mental Health Act:
- investigating complaints and conducting investigations under the Mental Health Act; and,
- assisting patients in understanding and exercising their legal rights under the Mental Health Act.
The purpose of the Health Charter is to set out clearly what Albertans can expect from the health system and roles and responsibilities within the system. The Alberta Health Act sets out clear principles to guide decision making in the health system, including a clear commitment to the Canada Health Act.
The Alberta Health Act received Royal Assent in 2010 and government has been working toward proclamation since that time. Work has included policy development, ensuring the Health Advocate regulation and charter is co-ordinated with existing health legislation, and development of a public consultation process.
Under the Building Alberta Plan, our government is investing in families and communities, living within our means, and opening new markets for Alberta's resources to ensure we're able to fund the services Albertans told us matter most to them. We will continue to deliver the responsible change Albertans voted for.