Posted by one of the AB docs, a summary of potential implications:
Proposal 1 – gives additional power to the Minister of Health to make unilateral changes to: 1)Registration and practice permit renewal; 2) Continuing competence and practice visits; 3) Inspections; and 4) Professional conduct to respond more quickly to pandemics, citing current experience for continuing and long-term care during the COVID pandemic. The AMA’s view is that this is premature and unnecessary, as 1) The pandemic is not even over, and there should be an evidence-based review once it is to determine policy change; and 2) Alberta has actually responded relatively well to the pandemic. “Expanding authority at this time would appear to be an opportunistic power grab”
Proposal 4 - seeks to establish centralized registry of health professional information with the government rather than individually with each college, supposedly to make it easier for the public to find who they want to complain about. Two options are given: 1) centralized registry on a government website including member information from all colleges; and 2) government would oversee the registration of health professionals and responsibility for professional registration would be conducted by a single agency established by the government.
Option 1 adds needless bureaucracy and cost to taxpayers, and 2 would result in the death of self-regulation of health professionals in Alberta, which has never happened anywhere else in Canada. This is the Big One. AMA rightly states that government does not have expertise needed to make regulatory decisions for any health profession, let alone all of them. This would further deteriorate the relationship between government and health professions to an untenable level.
Proposal 5 – address complaint process to make it more “patient-centred” with multiple options, including: 1) centralized government complaint registry to triage complaints to appropriate college; 2) centralized government complaint agency that handles all initial complaints for all professions, and only refer to colleges if complaint dismissal decision was appealed, an investigation was required, or disciplinary action was required, which the respective colleges would then handle; 3) Establish a centralized complaint and discipline agency within government to address all complaints, appeals investigations and hearings. Colleges would no longer have any responsibility in practitioner conduct and discipline; and 4) enhance current provisions to be more patient centred by increasing transparency and patient involvement (make it easier to make complaints, complain information to be shared with AH, AHS, HQCA, limit informal resolution, release investigation reports to complainants after conclusion, competence and training requirements for all tribunal members, publication of complaints for 10 years on College website, etc.). This is another big one. 2 of the 4 proposals would give government the direct power to make decisions on complaints (an obvious issue is that the government is actually filing some of the complaints about physicians at present). These would also mean loss of self-regulation, a first in Canada. AMA strongly opposes these options (although did not address option 4 in their response, which if any seems the most reasonable).
Proposal 7 – allows the government to decide which professions can perform “restricted activities”, which are essentially any device insertion, cutting, prescription, labour and delivery, anesthetic, invasive procedure, diagnostic imaging, medical or surgical treatment. The government could (theoretically) decide that midwives can give anesthetic agents or that social workers could perform surgery. More likely, it would mean taking procedures and responsibilities previously restricted to physicians and give to lower cost professions, without consideration for the expertise and responsibility required for the procedures, treatments, or investigations. I also note that this could result in increased scope of practice for naturopaths, which is one of the professions regulated by HPA.