I would like to start my first message of the year with a heartfelt thanks for the incredible contributions you all made to the lives of Albertans in the past year. I wish you all a happy and healthy 2021.
As you may know by now, on January 11 the government announced that paramedics would be included in Phase 1A of the COVID vaccine rollout. I believe this was absolutely the correct decision to ensure your safety and the safety of the public. There have been considerable efforts by a number of individuals and organizations, most notably the Alberta Paramedics Association and the Health Sciences Association of Alberta, that advocated for this change, and on behalf of the entire profession, I wish to thank them for their efforts. The College continues to work with stakeholders to ensure that communication about vaccine administration occurs as quickly and effectively as possible and commits to sharing this information as soon as it is available.
This New Year will bring another round of changes for our profession; as the government moves to finalize Bill 46: Health Statutes Amendment Act, 2020. What we will see are changes to almost all of our regulatory documents as our overarching legislation, the Health Professions Act undergoes much needed updates. The College is working diligently to ensure all revisions to our own processes and regulatory documents are made swiftly and with full opportunity for you, the regulated members of the profession, to consult and provide your comments and feedback. It is on this topic that I want to focus the rest of my message.
Your involvement in the regulation of the paramedic profession is larger than you may even realize. Liability insurance, for example, is one crucial way in which you contribute to regulatory excellence. By ensuring your policy is renewed and updated on your profile, you fulfill a very significant, ongoing regulatory requirement to practice in this province. I mention this now because last month, nearly 4,500 policies were renewed and almost every one of you updated your profile on time. The regulatory process is a swift one, and by updating your profile, you avoided the immediate suspension of your practice permit and were instead able to continue to serve Albertans without interruption. Thank you for your diligence in this, as it shows not only good governance of the profession; but also your commitment to ensuring proper protection is in place for you and your patients.
Another large project that you will soon be asked to participate in is the review of the College’s revised Standards of Practice. The Standards of Practice (Standards) for any profession are intended to guide and direct the minimum standards when providing care to patients. The Standards for our profession as you see them now were developed in a time of significant change as the profession was proclaimed under the Health Professions Act in 2016. As they stand, our Standards are currently very principle based and do not provide much in the way of tangible direction to regulated members or clear information to the public. We are correcting this with a new set of Standards this year.
Next month you will be asked to participate in the review of these new Standards; which are now organized into four main categories: 1.0 Professional Responsibility, 2.0 Patient Relationship, 3.0 Practice Management and 4.0 Clinical Practice. Your job as a regulated member is to review these new Standards and help the College in development by providing your comments and feedback. Your input into the revision of this document is not only important to guide the College in developing a robust set of Standards, but also ensures that the Standards are implementable in all areas of practice.
Standards of Practice inform the public on what they can expect from the care they receive from Paramedics in this province, which means they also provide a powerful set of minimum requirements that you are expected to uphold. The Standards are basically the “law” for our profession, which means they also form the benchmark for how our conduct department determines unprofessional conduct in the management of complaints. Your comments, you can then see, are exceptionally important to make sure the College takes into account all member experiences and concerns. This is also a very significant way you contribute to the regulation of our profession.
The mission of the College is: Regulating the paramedic profession together in the service of Albertans. We can’t do this without your involvement, and I thank you all for your passion and commitment to regulating the profession with us.
I am honoured to be part of this important time for paramedicine and look forward to continuing to serve as your Registrar this year.
Tim A. Ford