This release was issued under a previous government.

Marshall will begin her new role when the Alberta Health Act comes into force on Jan. 1, 2014. She has been appointed for a six-month term that expires June 30. She will be charged with setting up the advocate’s office, which is mandated to help Albertans navigate the health care system.

“We are privileged to have Mary Marshall become Alberta’s interim Health Advocate. Her work as a lawyer has led to a wealth of experience in providing health law and policy advice to governments, other agencies and organizations across Canada for over 30 years. She also has experience with the Office of Alberta’s Ombudsman, mental health legislation and health information privacy that will serve her well in her new role.”  

- Fred Horne, Minister of Health

“I am very pleased and honoured to accept this new and important role for the benefit of all Albertans.”

- Mary A. Marshall, interim Health Advocate

The Alberta Health Act sets out clear principles to guide decision-making in the health system and reinforces the government’s commitment to the principles of the Canada Health Act. The Act also establishes a Health Charter to guide what Albertans can expect from the health system.

Albertans will be able to participate in a month-long comment period on the draft Health Charter and proposed Health Advocate regulations in mid-January 2014.

Marshall’s career highlights include:

  • Providing health law and policy advice to Canada Health Infoway, the Alberta Mental Health Board, the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the governments of Alberta, Ontario, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Canada;
  • Successfully arguing for the privacy of therapeutic records before the Supreme Court of Canada;
  • Providing program development advice and independent program evaluation for the University of Alberta’s Information Access and Protection of Privacy program;
  • Conducting investigations and providing advice for the Office of the Alberta Ombudsman;
  • Serving on the boards of Accreditation Canada and the Canadian Nurses Association;
  • Serving as a member of the Mental Health and the Law Advisory Committee with the Mental Health Commission of Canada;
  • Serving as a member of the Ethics Committee for the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital and the University of Alberta Hospital; and
  • Co-chairing the Legal Issues Task Force with the Canadian Mental Health Association.

The Mental Health Patient Advocate and a new Seniors’ Advocate will be consolidated into the Health Advocate’s Office. The new office, including all advocate roles, will be fully operational by April 1, 2014.

Marshall’s duties as the interim Health Advocate will include:

  • Guiding the finalization of the Health Advocate regulation and the Health Charter under the Alberta Health Act;
  • Refining the roles and responsibilities for the Health Advocate that will take into account the finalized regulation and Health Charter; and
  • Establishing an advocate’s office comprised of the Health Advocate, the Seniors’ Advocate and the Mental Health Patient Advocate.

When all three advocates are housed in the Health Advocate’s Office, they will:

  • Help Albertans navigate the health system and link patients and their families to providers or services;
  • Receive and refer complaints and request investigations through appropriate channels;
  • Lead implementation of the Health Charter;
  • Request inspections, investigations, and quality and safety assessments related to care provided in seniors’ facilities;
  • Refer seniors’ concerns and complaints to the appropriate channels;
  • Provide information and referrals to seniors, their families, and caregivers regarding government-funded seniors’ health, continuing care, and social support programs and services;
  • Provide public education on the rights, interests, and needs of seniors;
  • Investigate complaints, conduct investigations and fulfil other duties under the Mental Health Act; and
  • Assist patients in understanding and exercising their legal rights under the Mental Health Act.

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.

Related information

Alberta Health Act (pdf)

Alberta Health Act background

Biography and photo of Mary A. Marshall

Editor’s Note:

A media availability with Minister Horne and Mary Marshall will be held at 10:30 a.m. today at the Alberta Health Central Reception area, Telus Plaza North Tower, 10025 Jasper Ave., Edmonton.

  • Reporters wishing to listen can call 1-888-231-8189 and use Conference ID number  27021952.
  • Reporters dialing in will be able to listen only.
  • Reporters must provide their conference ID, name, affiliation, and telephone number to the conference operator.
  • Reporters are encouraged to dial in 15 minutes early to ensure participation.