Updating health legislation to better serve Albertans

Chad Grasza
19.11.20 08:33 AM Comment(s)

Overview
The following post provides some highlights and details on two new Bills, Bill 46 and Bill 30. 
Bill 46, the Health Statutes Amendment Act, 2020, was introduced on November 5, 2020. If passed, it will update 4 pieces and repeal 1 piece of health legislation to improve governance and accountability and ensure the health-care system and health professionals meet the health needs of Albertans.
Bill 30, the Health Statutes Amendment Act, 2020 came into force July 29, 2020. It changed 9 pieces of health legislation to strengthen the role of Albertans in our health system, help reduce surgical wait times, and modernize the system so it can be more effective.

Highlights of Bill 46, the Health Statutes Amendment Act, 2020:

  • Strengthening protection of patients by regulating health-care aides.
  • Separating regulatory colleges from professional associations and allowing for the amalgamation of some smaller colleges.
  • Establishing a centralized, public-facing online registry of health professionals to help Albertans find a health provider.
  • Delivering better results for Albertans by allowing authorized health organizations and professionals to share health information in Alberta 
  • Netcare more efficiently and support better patient outcomes.
  • Keeping legislation current and increasing penalties for unauthorized use of patient health information.
  • Repealing the outdated Hospitals Act and moving all applicable parts into the Health Facilities Act.
  • Changing the name of the ABC Benefits Corporation Act to the Alberta Blue Cross Act to reflect the familiar name of the organization.
  • Updating some administrative items under the Health Professions Act to support best practices and improve responsiveness.


Bill 46 would amend the Health Professions Act, the Health Information Act, the Health Facilities Act, and the ABC Benefits Corporation Act. If passed, it would also repeal the Hospitals Act. Full details of Bill 46. the Health Statutes Amendment Act, 2020 


Highlights of Bill 30, the Health Statutes Amendment Act, include:


  • Supporting and strengthening the work of the Health Quality Council of Alberta so it can drive health system improvements and positive change for patients and  families.
  • Increasing the number of public members on Health Professional Regulatory College councils to ensure Albertans have a stronger voice and greater role in professional oversight.
  • Streamlining the approval process for chartered surgical facilities to operate so they can provide more high-quality, publicly funded surgeries to help reduce surgical wait times without compromising patient safety or quality of care.
  • Making it easier for physicians to enter into alternative relationship plans for compensation.
  • Enabling government to contract with a range of organizations to operate medical clinics so physicians can focus on providing patient care, rather than administration.
  • Clarifying the role of Alberta Health Services as the province’s single health authority, with Covenant Health as a strategic partner and the largest faith-based health-care provider.
  • Ensuring the Hospital Privileges Appeals Board continues to have a strong, qualified group of members to review grievances brought forward by medical staff against hospital boards.
  • Clarifying COVID-19 quarantine requirements under the Public Health Act to clearly articulate that all international travelers must quarantine for 14 days while the related chief medical officer of health orders are in effect.



Bill 30 would also repeal some legislation that no longer applies, since the bills were written when Alberta had multiple health regions. Full details of  Bill 30. the Health Statutes Amendment Act, 2020

Key changes: Bill 46
If passed, Bill 46, the Health Statutes Amendment Act, 2020 would update or repeal the following legislation: 
Health Professions Act:

•  Establishes the regulatory framework for health care aides to become a regulated profession and held to the same high standards as other health professionals.

• Allows for the regulation of multiple professions within a regulatory college to support more effective and efficient governance as well as inter-professional collaboration.

• Establishes a public-facing, centralized online registry where Albertans will be able to search for a health provider, rather than having to search multiple websites.

• Makes additional amendments to address some administrative housekeeping items.


Health Information Amendment Act:

• Better enables Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services and other authorized custodians to share electronic health record information for a broader set of authorized purposes to enhance patient-centric care.


ABC Benefits Corporation Act:

• Changes the name of the ABC Benefits Corporation Act to the Alberta Blue Cross Act to better reflect the public-facing name of the organization.

Health Facilities Act / Hospitals Act:
• All relevant sections of the Hospitals Act will be moved under the Health Facilities Act, and the outdated Hospitals Act repealed.
• A modernized Health Facilities Act will be the one, consolidated act that governs the operations of acute-care facilities in the province, and sets and regulates how acute-care health facilities, including hospitals and chartered surgical facilities, provide safe, high quality care to patients and families.


Key changes: Bill 30
Bill 30: The Health Statutes Amendment Act (2020) updated or repealed the following legislation: 
Health Quality Council of Alberta Amendment Act:
• Support and strengthen the work of the Health Quality Council of Alberta to focus on person-centered care, in addition to patient safety and health service quality.
• Provides clarity that the HQCA reports to the Minister of Health, increasing coordination and accountability.


Health Professions Amendment Act:

• Changes will increase the number of public members appointed to regulatory college councils, complaint review committees and hearing tribunals to give Albertans a  stronger voice and greater role in professional oversight.
• The number of public members will increase to 50% of each group’s membership up from 25%.

Health Care Protection Amendment Act:
• Renames the Health Care Protection Act to Health Facilities Act to better reflect the act’s role in regulating independently operated health-care facilities that provide  services within the publicly funded health system.
• Streamlines the review and approval process for chartered surgical facilities, reducing red tape and administrative burden so current and new chartered surgical facilities can provide more publicly funded surgeries and help reduce surgical wait times as part of the Alberta Surgical Wait-Times Initiative.


Alberta Health Care Insurance Amendment Act:
•Modernizes legislation so physicians have more options in how they are paid, including making it easier for physicians to enter into Alternative Relationship Plans for compensation.
•Allows government to contract with a range of organizations to operate medical clinics.


Regional Health Authorities Amendment Act:
• Clarifies the role and responsibilities of Alberta Health Services as the single health authority in Alberta and Covenant Health as a strategic partner and the largest provider of faith-based health-care services.


Hospitals Amendment Act:
• Changes the requirements of membership for the Hospital Privileges Appeal Board so that it will be easier to appoint and keep qualified members to review grievances brought forward by medical staff against hospital boards.


Public Health Act:
• Amendments clarify that COVID-19 quarantine requirements require all international travelers to quarantine for 14 days while the related orders from the Chief     Medical Officer of Health are in effect.


Health Governance Transition Act:
• Repeals the act which helped AHS take over responsibilities for cancer treatment, mental health and addiction services for the province, when the Alberta Mental Health Board, Alberta Cancer Board and the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission were dissolved.
• Other legislation is being amended to ensure the Alberta Cancer Foundation continues its role in fundraising to support cancer care, prevention and research across the province.


Provincial Health Authorities of Alberta Act:
• Repeals the act which is no longer necessary, since nine former regional health authorities, the Alberta Mental Health Board and Alberta Cancer Board were disbanded in 2009 when AHS became the province’s single health authority.

Next steps
Bill 46, the Health Statutes Amendment Act, 2020 - Most amendments will come into force when proclaimed.
Bill 30, the Health Statutes Amendment Act, 2020 - Most amendments came into force upon receiving royal assent on July 29, 2020. 
Others will come into force upon proclamation and one other will come into force April 1, 2021.