Bill 21 Now in Effect
In November 2018, the Alberta government passed Bill 21: An Act to Protect Patients which amends the Health Professions Act and affects all regulated health professionals in Alberta. Bill 21 is intended to better protect patients from sexual abuse and sexual misconduct by regulated health professionals.
The Bill introduces a number of requirements for all regulatory colleges, including the Alberta College of Paramedics. These requirements will help increase transparency, apply consistent sanctions, and provide patient protection and support.
One of the largest changes mandates sanctions including practice permit cancellation or suspension for any healthcare professional found guilty of sexual abuse or misconduct involving a patient. This is now in effect.
MANDATORY SANCTIONS FOR SEXUAL MISCONDUCT START APRIL 2019
There are mandatory sanctions for health professionals found to have committed sexual abuse or sexual misconduct towards a patient that go into effect April 1, 2019:
- sexual abuse of a patient = permanent cancellation of practice permit
- sexual misconduct towards a patient = minimum suspension of practice permit (more severe penalties are within the discretion of the hearing tribunal)
- If a practice permit is cancelled because of sexual misconduct towards a patient, there is a five-year prohibition before you can apply for reinstatement (and reinstatement may not be granted)
If you have not read the new Standard of Practice: Sexual Abuse and Sexual Misconduct Involving a Patient, you are strongly advised to do so. Click here.
The Standard provides information on the types of behaviour and conduct that is not permitted. Notably, and an area we know was a concern expressed by some, is when you are permitted to begin a romantic relationship with a former patient. Depending on if you treated a patient once or multiple times, you must wait at least six and up to 12 months before beginning any relationship.
DUTY TO SELF REPORT
A regulated member who is charged criminally or found guilty of sexual behaviour with a patient in any jurisdiction by any regulator must report their behaviour to the College.
DUTY TO DISCLOSE
Bill 21 mandates an applicant must disclose any charges or findings of sexual misconduct or abuse to the College at initial registration and at every annual renewal. You will see the following questions starting with the 2019/2020 renewal (similar questions are also asked in the initial application):
In the last 12 months have you been with the subject of a formal complaint resolution agreement, undertaking or hearing outcome with any regulatory body in any jurisdiction?
Rationale: Regulated members are required to disclose this information as a requirement of the Health Professions Act. Investigations, conduct review, having a suspended, canceled or revoked registration or conduct related conditions and/or civil judgements may affect a practitioner’s eligibility for registration.
Has a judgment in a civil action regarding your practice been made against you in the last 12 months?
Rationale: Regulated members are required to disclose this information as a requirement of the Health Professions Act. Civil actions made against a practitioner may affect a practitioner’s eligibility for registration.
DUTY TO REPORT OTHERS
Regulated members of the College who see another healthcare professional engaged in inappropriate sexual behaviour with a patient must report that behaviour. The behaviour needs to be reported to that healthcare professional’s regulatory college. It also means that any conduct of an EMR, PCP or ACP that is witnessed by another healthcare provider that appears to be inappropriate sexual contact will be reported to the Alberta College of Paramedics.
ADDITIONAL NEW REQUIREMENTS
Bill 21 also now requires additional information specific to discipline history of regulated members to be posted on the website. The College already made a commitment to posting hearing dates and final decisions, so this is not new for our College.
Criminal record checks are also mandatory for new applicants, but again, the College had already been meeting this requirement with our current process.
Additionally, each regulatory college must establish a Patient Relations Program that must include measures to prevent and address sexual abuse and sexual misconduct towards patients by regulated health professionals. We continue to work on these elements.
If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.