Table of contents

Status: The Public Health Amendment Act came into force December 7, 2023
Ministry responsible: Justice

Overview

The Public Health Amendment Act, (formerly Bill 6), clarifies the roles and accountability of cabinet and medical officers of health, including the chief medical officer of health, in any future declared state of public health emergency. 

The act affirms that the people elected by Albertans have discretionary authority to make the final decisions based on scientific and medical public health factors during a public health emergency. 

These changes bring the legislation in line with the Ingram court decision, which determined public health order decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic did not follow the legislation.

Key changes

The Public Health Amendment Act amends Section 29 of the Public Health Act to clarify the roles and accountability of cabinet and medical officers of health, including the chief medical officer of health, in future declared states of public health emergency. 

  • During a declared state of public health emergency:
    • medical officers of health, including the chief medical officer of health, retain final decision-making authority for orders impacting a specific person or persons or a specific public place.
    • cabinet has discretionary authority to make final decisions on public health orders in respect of all persons or groups of persons, including groups of individuals, businesses, non-profits and educational settings. 
  • The chief medical officer of health provides advice for cabinet and cabinet committees consideration.  

The act also amends the Public Health Act to include a paramountcy clause that provides cabinet with the discretionary authority to reverse or vary any public health decision of any decision-maker made under the Public Health Act outside of a declared state of public health emergency.

For more information, read the Bill 6 Public Amendment Act fact sheet.

Next steps

The Public Health Amendment Act came into force on December 7, 2023.

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