Alberta introduces significant regulatory amendments to Health Professions Act

Proposed change bans a college from acting or holding itself out as a professional association

Alberta introduces significant regulatory amendments to Health Professions Act
The Alberta Legislature building in Edmonton.

Alberta’s bill 46, the Health Statutes Amendment Act, 2020 (No. 2), may make major changes to the Health Professions Act, RSA 2000, c H-7, if passed.

The recently introduced bill aims to incorporate the list of restricted activities for health services in the Health Professions Act. Presently, this list is found in the Government Organization Act, RSA 2000, c G-10. In an article written by James Casey, partner at Field Law, which analyzed the major amendments introduced by bill 46, Casey wrote that the transfer of this list to the Health Professions Act may potentially lead to a review and update of these restricted activities.

The bill bans a college from acting or representing itself as a professional association. The prohibition against colleges setting professional fees, which presently admits of an exception in the event that the health minister has given authorization, is no longer subject to such an exception.

As for the rules for registration, a proposed amendment will require every applicant to present evidence of good character and reputation and to inform if they have been disciplined by a regulatory body in another jurisdiction which is responsible for that profession. Other proposed changes pertain to the processes for assessing good character and reputation and for reinstating cancelled registration and practice permits.

The regulatory mechanism for protected professional titles may be moved to the standards of practice from the college’s regulations, a change which will “streamline the regulatory process of assigning rights to use particular titles,” according to Casey.

Other proposed amendments concern competence committees and continuing competence programs, whose regulatory tool may also be switched to the standards of practice instead of the regulations. These programs should require participation in a self-directed professional development program and may include examinations, interviews or other assessments. This change in the regulatory tool may streamline the updating process and may provide colleges without such programs an opportunity to develop one, wrote Casey.

Another major change is the introduction of health care aides as a regulated profession, which will fall under the College of Licensed Practical Nurses, to be renamed the “College of Licensed Practical Nurses and Health Care Aides of Alberta.”

While currently, the Lieutenant Governor in Council should approve regulations, a proposed amendment will require the health minister’s approval instead. Casey approved of this change, stating that, “Waiting for regulation amendments to make it to the priority list for the LGIC was causing a very serious backlog for Colleges.”

Other proposed amendments to the Health Professions Act involve the power of the Council to make regulations and bylaws and the requirements for new Colleges and regulated professions.

Bill 46l also seeks to amend other provincial health legislation, namely the ABC Benefits Corporation Act, RSA 2000, c A-1, the Health Facilities Act, RSA 2000, c H-2.7, and the Health Information Act, RSA 2000, c H-5.

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