Q&A with the MLA’s: New Health Advocate for Alberta

What will be the role of the new Health Advocate the government announced last week? Doesn’t this add another layer of bureaucracy?

The government is establishing a Health Advocate to provide additional services to Albertans and their families and help them navigate the province’s health care system.

With the proclamation of the Alberta Health Act, the government is establishing a Health Charter, which sets out the government’s commitment to the principles of the Canada Health Act. The government will also set up a Health Advocate’s office, which will assist Albertans in navigating the health system.

As each advocate role deals primarily with health care issues, the Mental Health Patient Advocate and new Seniors’ Advocate will be consolidated into the Health Advocate’s office, which will improve collaboration, reduce duplication and streamline administration.

The Alberta Health Act will come into force on January 1, 2014, when government will be appointing a Health Advocate. Consultations on the draft Health Charter and draft Health Advocate regulations will occur in January 2014.

The new office, including all advocate roles, will be fully operational by April 1, 2014.

The proposed Health Act regulation will outline duties and authorities of the Health Advocate, requirements for complaint reviews, set out parameters for how reviews can be conducted, and set out requirements regarding records management and confidentiality.

The Health Advocate’s duties will include:

  • assisting Albertans in navigating the health system and linking patients and their families to providers or services;
  • receiving and referring complaints and requesting investigations through appropriate channels; and,
  • leading implementation, including education and public awareness, of the health charter.

The Seniors’ Advocate’s role will include:

  • requesting inspections, investigations, and quality and safety assessments related to care provided in seniors’ facilities as laid out in Alberta law;
  • referring concerns and complaints to the appropriate channels;
  • providing information and referrals to seniors, their families, and caregivers regarding government-funded seniors’ health, continuing care, and social support programs and services; and,
  • providing public education on the rights, interests, and needs of seniors.

The Mental Health Patient Advocate’s responsibilities will continue as provided by the Mental Health Act:

  • investigating complaints and conducting investigations under the Mental Health Act; and,
  • assisting patients in understanding and exercising their legal rights under the Mental Health Act.

The purpose of the Health Charter is to set out clearly what Albertans can expect from the health system and roles and responsibilities within the system. The Alberta Health Act sets out clear principles to guide decision making in the health system, including a clear commitment to the Canada Health Act.

The Alberta Health Act received Royal Assent in 2010 and government has been working toward proclamation since that time. Work has included policy development, ensuring the Health Advocate regulation and charter is co-ordinated with existing health legislation, and development of a public consultation process.

Mike Allen is the MLA for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo. He can be reached at 780-790-6014 or email fortmcmurray.woodbuffalo@assembly.ab.ca.

 

What is the new legislation that provides protection for Alberta’s international investors?

In today’s competitive global economy, it’s increasingly important that the Government of Alberta’s efforts support opening new markets and international investment. It is a key component of our Building Alberta Plan and, to achieve it, we need to ensure our province has the mechanisms in place to assist Alberta companies and investors in the international marketplace.

This fall, the Government of Alberta has put forward legislation that will implement the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of other States—commonly known as ICSID. The ICSID Convention promotes economic growth and international investment by offering a regime for impartial resolution of investment disputes. Alberta investors are and will remain free not to use the ICSID Convention in any of their international disputes, but if they chose to use it, they can benefit from accessing the resources offered by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes. The Government of Canada announced on November 1 they had formally ratified the Convention, and Alberta is doing our part to help ensure implementation is seamless across all Canadian provinces and territories.

Moving forward with this legislation is a positive step to creating certainty for investors both within Alberta and abroad—sustaining success and prosperity for all Albertans, now and for generations to come.

 

What is the Building Families and Communities Act and what is it designed to do? 

The Building Families and Communities Act was recently introduced to create Family and Community Engagement Councils (FCEC) that will focus on listening to communities, identifying social issues, and creating collaborative local solutions. The Act was designed to support and align with Alberta’s Social Policy Framework, which was developed by more than 31,000 Albertans as a roadmap for communities, governments, business, non-profits and families to work better together to address social challenges.

Working at the community level, the new Family and Community Engagement Councils will build on the relationships, cooperative spirit and common sense of purpose established during Alberta’s Social Policy Framework engagement process. They will conduct meaningful engagement and co-create solutions to local issues with communities and organizations like Health Advisory Councils, school boards, and Family and Community Support Services to name a few.

The Family and Community Engagement Councils will be made up of Albertans from all areas of interest and capabilities. Aboriginal co-chairs will ensure the councils reflect the social and cultural perspectives of First Nations, Métis and Inuit. Council members will be recruited in the new year through an open competition based on their ability and experience to fulfill roles.

More information on the legislation will be forthcoming.

As the MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin, I am always interested in engaging with constituents. Please feel free to contact my office at any time to share your ideas or questions at (780) 588-7979 orfortmcmurray.conklin@assembly.ab.ca