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Before the hearing
Hearing location and date
Hearings are usually held in a community near you. Before the hearing happens, the Appeals Secretariat may arrange a telephone meeting with you and a person from Alberta Adoption Services. They will check details about the appeal and answer questions about the appeal process.
Then the Appeals Secretariat sends you a scheduling letter with the date, time and hearing location. You, or a person authorized to act on your behalf, must take part in the hearing.
Contact the Appeals Secretariat when you get their letter if you:
- have to change the hearing date and pick a new date that you, Alberta Adoption Services and the appeal panel agree on
- cannot go in person and need another way to take part in the hearing
- want to give someone authority to act on your behalf, if needed, by providing an Authorization form (PDF, 72 KB)
If something comes up at the last minute and you or the person acting on your behalf cannot be at the hearing, tell the Appeals Secretariat immediately.
If you do not take part, the appeal panel may hear your appeal without you and make a decision. If they make a decision it is final. This means your right to appeal will end and your appeal will be closed.
Your information and role
The Appeals Secretariat’s scheduling letter tells you how to submit information that supports your appeal. This must happen before the hearing based on the deadline in the letter.
During the hearing, your role is to:
- present your case to the appeal panel based on the information you already submitted to support your position
- explain why the appeal panel should decide in your favour
- bring witnesses, if you choose, to support your case
The Appeals Secretariat sends an appeal package to you, Alberta Adoption Services and the appeal panel at least one week before the hearing. Make sure to:
- read this package when it comes – it includes copies of all the documents:
- you gave to support your appeal
- Alberta Adoption Services provided to support their decision
- bring the package with you to the appeal hearing
Contact the Appeals Secretariat if you:
- do not get the package or documents are missing
- need help reviewing the package in a language other than English – the Appeals Secretariat can give you information about organizations that may be able to help you review it before the hearing
At the hearing
Appeal hearings are usually held weekdays from 9 am to 4:30 pm. These people will take part:
- 3 appeal panel members including 1 chair and 2 members
- you and/or the person acting on your behalf or anyone you said would be there to assist you
- someone from Alberta Adoption Services and any people acting on their behalf or assisting them
What takes place
Usually, the hearing happens as follows:
- The chair introduces everyone and goes over the rules, then asks if:
- you and the person from Alberta Adoption Services understand the decision being appealed
- anyone objects to the people on the panel or their right to decide your appeal
- If there are no objections, the chair asks if everyone received the appeal package and if they can confirm all their documents were included. The chair also asks if anyone has information that was not included in the appeal package that the appeal panel should consider. If there is, then you or the person from Alberta Adoption Services can ask for:
- copies of the new information
- a short break to review it
- the hearing to be moved to another day to allow more time to review it
- The person from Alberta Adoption Services and their supporters present their information first.
You and the panel will:
- let them speak without interrupting them to hear why they made their decision
- be able to ask questions after each person speaks
- Next, you or the person acting on your behalf, and others who support your appeal will present your information. The person from Alberta Adoption Services and the panel will:
- let you speak without interrupting you to hear why you disagree with the decision that was made
- be able to ask questions after each person speaks
- The chair asks the person from Alberta Adoption Services, then you or the person acting on your behalf, to summarize your information and the decision you would like the panel to make.
- The chair ends the hearing and lets you know when you can expect the panel's decision.
After the hearing
Once the appeal panel makes a decision:
- you will get a letter with the appeal panel’s decision and reasons for the decision
- the appeal panel’s decision is final – this means they cannot look at new information or change their decision
- you cannot file another appeal on their decision or Alberta Adoption Services’ decision
Concerns about the hearing
If you think the appeal hearing was unfair or the appeal panel’s decision does not follow the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act and the Adoption Regulation (CYFE Act and Adoption Regulation) you have 2 options:
Option 1. File a complaint to the Ombudsman
You can make a complaint to the Alberta Ombudsman’s office. They cannot reverse or change an appeal panel decision, but they can:
- review the appeal process
- make recommendations, including that an appeal panel re-hear the case
Option 2. Apply for a judicial review
A judicial review happens through the Court of Queen’s Bench. The Court cannot reverse or change an appeal panel decision, however they can decide if the appeal panel:
- acted within its legal authority
- followed a fair process
- made a reasonable decision based on the situation
When a judicial review happens, the Court:
- cannot make a new decision
- will send the case back for the appeal panel to hear again if it agrees the hearing is unfair – if this happens, different panel members may hear your appeal
If you wish to apply for a judicial review, you must:
- file an Originating Application for Judicial Review, Form 7, Alberta Rules of Court, Rule 3.8) with the Court within 6 months from the date the appeal panel made its decision
- decide if you need a lawyer to assist you – if you do, then contact the Law Society of Alberta’s referral service at 1-800-661-1095 or Legal Aid Alberta at 1-866-845-3425 for help finding one
The Appeals Secretariat is a neutral government office that runs separately from Alberta Adoption Services.
Connect with the Appeals Secretariat:
Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed 12 to 1 pm and statutory holidays)
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Email: [email protected]
2nd Floor, Agronomy Centre
6903 116 Street NW
Edmonton, Alberta T6H 5Z2