COVID-19 Updates: State of public health emergency declared.
The proposed legislation would extend COVID-19 civil liability protection to those in the health-care sector who have rigorously followed public-health orders and guidance throughout the pandemic. Civil liability protection specific to COVID-19 does not exist in the Public Health Act or any other legislation in Alberta.
“Clients, residents and their families across Alberta are relying on continuing care facilities and staff to be able to continue to support their needs without distraction throughout the pandemic. Not having any provincial legislation in place to address COVID-19 civil liability protection, given the unparalleled dedication and accountability we have seen within the sector, could undermine the provision of care and services.”
“Alberta’s health system has navigated this difficult situation throughout the pandemic while delivering quality health services and protecting Albertans. The proposed legislation would ensure those delivering health services in good faith, according to public health guidance, cannot be held liable for damages due to COVID-19 spread or exposure. Those who are grossly negligent can and should be held accountable for their actions.”
Alberta, as in other jurisdictions in Canada and around the world, continues to grapple with the unforeseen impacts due to COVID-19. The proposed bill is similar to legislation introduced across Canada, such as in British Columbia and Ontario, and the proposed approach in Saskatchewan.
The proposed legislation strikes a balance between protecting those who have dutifully followed the rules with still permitting civil action to proceed against those whose actions may have been grossly negligent. Providing COVID-19 civil liability protection assures the health system can continue to deliver health services to Albertans without fear of being exposed to lawsuits and claims caused by exposure to COVID-19.
“The pandemic has put extreme pressure on the entire health system to provide health services to Albertans on a daily basis, in all health-care settings. Civil liability protection assures the health system a level of stability from additional challenges related to COVID-19.”
“Covenant welcomes this legislation as we continue to respond to COVID-19 with an unwavering focus on providing quality services to Albertans. Throughout the pandemic, we have ensured strict adherence to all public health orders and directives issued by the chief medical officer of health to ensure the ongoing health and safety of our patients, residents and teams.”
“It is our professional calling to be here for patients. Throughout the pandemic, it has been critical that health professionals on the front lines adhere to public health regulations and orders. This legislation will provide comfort by protection from civil lawsuits from inadvertent transmission when they are following public health rules, so that they can focus on continuing to provide the best care as safely as possible.”
“Our association has advocated for liability protection to protect operators who have been diligently following public health orders and recommendations during the pandemic. We are pleased the Alberta government is introducing COVID-19 civil liability protection legislation since it would ensure the protection and sustainability of the continuing care sector as a whole.”
“CHAA’s not-for-profit operators and our staff have worked tirelessly to respond to rapidly changing conditions over the past year. Our sector’s understanding of COVID-19 has evolved tremendously, and we have been diligent in implementing all new public health guidelines the moment they are issued. This liability protection will ensure our operators continue to be supported as we deliver safe, high-quality care to those in our care.”
“We are pleased the government is proposing this legislation. It shows that ‘we are all in this together’ and supports our seniors housing providers as they continue to focus on the risks to more than 40,000 residents and providing the services they need, while alleviating uncertainties around liability related to following government orders.”
“I am encouraged the government is introducing this legislation which the sector has been asking for. Operators, like Bethany, have been delivering care and services over the last year in very challenging circumstances. This legislation recognizes this and is welcomed by continuing care operators, seniors housing providers and other health service providers who are directly impacted by COVID-19.”
“Citadel Care Centre supports this key legislation moving forward. Since the outset of the pandemic, our front-line essential service staff have been working tirelessly, under the guidance of the chief medical officer of health, to provide optimal care and services to our most vulnerable population. Having this legislation in place greatly supports our efforts in this regard.”
Alberta’s government is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by protecting lives and livelihoods with precise measures to bend the curve, sustain small businesses and protect Alberta’s health-care system.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has put an unprecedented strain on Alberta’s health system and any unforeseen challenges could compromise the delivery of health services in the province.
- If passed, the legislation would protect:
- Alberta Health Services
- Regulated health professionals
- Health service facilities, such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, lodges, licensed supportive living, pharmacies and residential addiction treatment facilities
- Any owner, employee, contractor and others in these groups
- Anyone else identified through future regulation, as needed
- The protection would not extend to those deemed grossly negligent.
- The COVID-19 Related Measures Act would be retroactive to March 1, 2020.
- Other jurisdictions, such as British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Ontario, have already introduced COVID-19 liability protection. Saskatchewan is in the process of passing legislation.