Regulatory Reform in Alberta: A Status Update
Perspectives for the Professions
November 2022 - 5 min read
The implementation of the Health Professions Act ("the HPA") on December 31, 2001 introduced major regulatory reform to Alberta, and for the next 17 years there was an extended period of legislative stability. Then, in 2018, the "winds of change" sweeping much of Canada and around the world arrived in Alberta with gale force. As a result, the last four years have been a period of extensive, intense, and complex regulatory reform in Alberta. In our article from May 2019, Professional Regulation: The Political Winds are Blowing, we provide more information on general regulatory reform in Canada.
Six major legislative initiatives have enacted regulatory reform in the past four years in Alberta. With so much change, keeping track of where matters stand can be challenging. Many may find themselves asking: What reforms are in effect? What reforms are not? If not in effect, what is the status of the implementation process? When might the legislation come into effect?
This article will address these questions and provide an update on the status of the legislative initiatives impacting professional regulation in Alberta.
1. Bill 21, An Act to Protect Patients
Bill 21 was introduced in October 2018 and amended the HPA to include definitions for sexual abuse and sexual misconduct and create special processes for sexual abuse and sexual misconduct complaints. These provisions are fully in effect.
For more information on Bill 21 and its key features, please see:
2. Bill 11, Fair Registration Practices Act
Bill 11 was introduced in June 2019. It created the Fair Registration Practices Act, which imposed duties on professional regulators to ensure registration and assessment processes are transparent, objective, impartial and procedurally fair. While the Fair Registration Practices Act was enacted primarily to address concerns about the assessment and registration processes for internationally educated professionals, it currently applies to all applicants for registration for regulators covered by the Act (see our discussion of Bill 49 regarding labour mobility applicants below). The Fair Registration Practices Act is in effect and applies to the regulatory organizations listed in Schedule 1.
For more information on Bill 11, please see:
3. Bill 30, Health Statutes Amendment Act
Bill 30 was introduced in July 2020 and amended the HPA to create a system of "co-governance" for Council, Hearing Tribunals, Panels of Council hearing unprofessional conduct appeals, and Complaint Review Committees by requiring that these bodies be comprised of 50% public members. The amendments to the HPA from Bill 30 are in effect.
For more information, please see:
4. Bill 46, Health Statutes Amendment Act
Bill 46 was introduced in November 2020 to further amend the HPA. The amendments enacted by Bill 46 had two components:
- It includes provisions prohibiting regulatory Colleges under the HPA from engaging in "association functions." Some of these provisions are in effect; however, others are being staged-in and will come into force on April 1, 2023.
Given this complexity, for a detailed analysis of the particular provisions that are in force and those that will come into force on April 1, 2023, please contact James Casey, KC, Tessa Gregson, or any member of our Professional Regulatory Group.
- It introduced a major realignment of use of the regulatory tools under the HPA, i.e. the various College regulations, Ministerial regulations, standards of practice, codes of ethics, and bylaws. Bill 46 extensively amended the HPA to change which regulatory tools were required for certain regulatory functions. The objective was to streamline and simplify certain regulatory processes, but unfortunately, there were several drafting errors in the complex provisions of Bill 46. As a result, the Department of Health has adopted a mitigation strategy under which some of the provisions (the erroneous provisions) amending the HPA will not be proclaimed in force at all.
While the Government had planned to implement Bill 46 on December 31, 2022, it recently indicated that the implementation will be delayed. The Government has provided a new expected proclamation date of March 31, 2023, at which time the new College regulations, the new regulation with respect to restricted activities, and the College standards of practice on restricted activities will come into effect. It is anticipated that the Government will keep with the mitigation strategy indicated above and not proclaim the erroneous provisions of Bill 46 in force. While Colleges under the HPA now have a bit more time, they should continue any needed work to ensure the new Bylaws reflecting the changes from Bill 46 that will come into effect are ready for March 31, 2023.
For more information, see:
5. Bill 49, Labour Mobility Act
Bill 49 was introduced in October 2021, creating duties on regulatory Colleges with respect to the registration of "labour mobility applicants"; these are applicants already registered in the profession in another Canadian jurisdiction. The Labour Mobility Act will apply to over 60 regulatory organizations listed in the legislation.
Once the Labour Mobility Act comes into effect, the definition of an "applicant" under the Fair Registration Practices Act will be narrowed to exclude labour mobility applicants. As a result, once the Labour Mobility Act is in effect, it will take over governing labour mobility applicants and the Fair Registrations Practice Act will apply to all other applicants.
The Labour Mobility Act is currently not in effect. In the meantime, the Government has been consulting with affected regulatory organizations on the accompanying regulation and has published a "Proposed Labour Mobility Regulation 2022 Discussion Guide." Regulators should be actively engaging with Government on the proposed content of the regulation to ensure that their registration practices adequately protect the public after Bill 49 comes into effect.
For more information, see Bill 49-The Labour Mobility Act: Implications for Regulators.
6. Bill 23, Professional Governance Act
Bill 23 was introduced in May 2022 to create umbrella legislation, similar to the HPA, covering 22 non-health professional regulatory organizations and repeal the existing legislation governing these organizations. However, Bill 23 died on the Order Paper in the last Legislative Assembly.
At this time, Bill 23 has not been introduced and reinstated at the legislative session that commenced November 29, 2022; accordingly, the Government's intent for Bill 23 remains unknown. Similarly, the Government's target date for implementing Bill 23, should it be reintroduced, is also unknown. Before Bill 23 can be implemented, the Government and Colleges will need to complete a massive project to develop the various regulations required under the umbrella Act.
For more information, see :
We trust this provides a helpful recount of "where matters stand" regarding professional regulatory reform over the past few years. We anticipate the "winds of change" will continue to blow and will be sure to keep our readers in the loop. Part of the role of our Professional Regulatory Group is to help clients navigate the complexity and impact of legislative changes. If regulators have any questions about the status or effect of these Bills, please contact James Casey, KC, Tessa Gregson, or any member of our Professional Regulatory Group.