Important Communication and Survey on Bill 21: An Act to Protect Patients
To all CDA members,
The Alberta government recently introduced Bill 21: An Act to Protect Patients to amend the Health Professions Act (HPA). Bill 21 speaks specifically to sexual abuse and sexual misconduct by regulated health professionals and introduces a number of new requirements for regulatory health colleges and its members. The new rules will ensure consistent penalties are applied to all health professionals regulated under the Health Professions Act for findings of sexual abuse or sexual misconduct.
Some of the changes are significant and will require all regulatory health colleges to engage in substantive action in a short period of time. Bill 21 received Royal Assent on November 19, 2018; some portions of the Bill are in effect as of November 19th and some will come into force on April 1, 2019.
What is sexual abuse and sexual misconduct?
Bill 21 introduces new definitions to the HPA for “patient”, “sexual abuse”, “sexual misconduct”, and “sexual nature”. You can read the definitions by accessing the Alberta Government’s website at https://www.alberta.ca/protecting-patients-against-sexual-abuse.aspx.
Each College will be required to implement a Standard of Practice which defines who a patient is for the purposes of that profession. The other definitions relate to the scope of misconduct: sexual abuse relates to physical acts, and sexual misconduct consists of objectionable conduct, behaviour or remarks.
What are the changes in Bill 21?
Bill 21 represents by far the most significant set of amendments to the Health Professions Act in its 20-year history. The amendments are complex and far-reaching and require careful attention by both colleges and all regulated health professionals.
For a detailed summary of the changes to the Health Professions Act introduced in Bill 21, please review the posted document, “Summary of Changes in Bill 21: An Act to Protect Patients”.
College Statement on Bill 21: An Act to Protect Patients
The College supports this legislation. The protection of Albertans is of paramount importance to all health professionals, and to Albertans. The legislation gives all colleges new tools to increase transparency and to address serious cases of sexual misconduct and abuse. The College takes these issues seriously and this new legislation will help maintain public confidence in the profession.
The College emphasizes that the vast majority of Registered Dietitians treat their patients with respect and professionalism, and there is no reason to change how you practice. However, there is a heightened awareness and concern around the power imbalance between health professionals and patients that this legislation addresses.
For more information on Bill 21, please access the Alberta Government website here: https://www.alberta.ca/protecting-patients-against-sexual-abuse.aspx
All of the changes under Bill 21 must be implemented no later than March 31, 2019. The College will continue to keep members updated as we work towards full compliance.
Standards of Practice Survey
Bill 21 sets out a series of criteria that must be addressed in the development of the standards of practice. The proposed standards must be submitted to the membership of the College as well as the Minister for review and comment. Once the College considers the comments of the membership and the Minister, final ministerial approval must be obtained. The Standards of Practice must be submitted to the Minister by December 31, 2018.
With a short period of time to meet compliance, the College will be sending out a survey over the next week regarding the proposed Standards of Practice for Bill 21. With tight deadlines, the opportunity to respond will be time sensitive therefore we encourage all members to watch for the email from Survey Monkey and complete the survey as soon as possible.
If you have any questions regarding Bill 21, please contact Doug Cook, Registrar & Executive Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Doug Cook, CAE
Executive Director & Registrar
College of Dietitians of Alberta