The provincial government is working to protect Albertans from sexual misconduct and abuse from regulated health professionals by introducing a bill that increases survivor supports and requires more transparency for regulatory colleges.
After hearing from survivors and their allies, the government is taking action with An Act to Protect Patients. The bill would make penalties mandatory for sexual abuse and sexual misconduct by regulated health professionals, would require disciplinary actions to be clearly and consistently posted online, and would provide survivors with access to treatment, counselling and patient-relations programs.
“Women, and all Albertans, deserve to feel safe when they put their trust in health-care professionals. For too long, Albertans were left in the dark about disciplinary histories, as we continued to hear disturbing stories of offending professionals being allowed to practise again. I’m proud our government is taking action to increase transparency, support survivors and strengthen protections for patients in Alberta.”
~Sarah Hoffman, Minister of Health
“Sexual abuse or sexual misconduct by a health professional is an abuse of power and control and an egregious betrayal of trust. This new legislation would better protect patients from health professionals who have committed sexual offences by mandating appropriate penalties, making information public about those who have offended and providing support to those who have been victimized.”
~Debra Tomlinson, CEO, Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services
If passed, An Act to Protect Patients would enable Alberta’s regulatory colleges under the Health Professions Act to cancel practice permits in instances of sexual abuse and suspend them in instances of sexual misconduct, and would require colleges to create public websites that list health professionals’ discipline history for sexual abuse and misconduct. The legislation would also require that colleges provide funding for treatment and counselling for patient survivors. Health professionals found guilty of a regulatory offence would be barred from reinstatement for at least five years.
If the bill is passed, Alberta would be the second province in Canada, after Ontario, to take targeted legislative action to protect patients from sexual abuse by health professionals, with new legislative requirements coming into effect April 1, 2019.