This spring, College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta (CLPNA) welcomed the Government of Alberta’s invitation to participate in the review of the Minister’s Advisory Committee on Health (MACH) “A Foundation for Alberta’s Health System” regarding the proposed Alberta Health Act.
The CLPNA is committed to working within a comprehensive, universal, portable, publicly-administered, and accessible health care system. We are pleased to support the Government of Alberta’s commitment to these guiding principles, which are the core of the Canada Health Act; and its commitment to sustainable public health care.
LPNs & the Alberta Health Act
The stated objective of the Alberta Health Act is to consolidate the 30 pieces of legislation and 100 regulations that currently guide the health system. LPNs are regulated by one of those pieces, the Health Professions Act (HPA), which provides for self-governance for 73% of health professionals in Alberta.
The HPA provides the authority and framework for the business of the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta (CLPNA): governance, regulation, continuing competence, professional conduct, and the creation of Bylaws, Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. The CLPNA develops standards and professional expectations to accomplish the mandate of ensuring LPNs practice safely, competently, and ethically.
Since the Health Professions Act will be consolidated within its framework, it is important to ensure the principles expressed in the Alberta Health Act support appropriate care to Albertans recognizing the value of the LPN.
CLPNA is generally supportive of the principles of the new Act and on the focus on full utilization of health professionals.
Principles such as a commitment to quality and safety, equitable access to timely and appropriate care, decision-making through using best available evidence, a focus on wellness and public health, and fostering a culture of trust and respect are worthy and achievable expectations.
CLPNA expressed to MACH convictions regarding some additional principles propose for inclusion in the Act. These include:
- the importance of “long-term planning and resource allocation to ensure consistent, high-quality care” in addition to funding
- better definition of overlapping professional roles to ensure professionals can focus on what they do best
- ensuring supervision of unregulated workers
- removal of barriers that prevent full workforce usage, including flattening of administrative structures to ensure flexibility and responsiveness
- creation of policies that foster interdisciplinary collaboration
- the alignment of legislation that promotes safety, and policies and procedures that include effective feedback loops
The CLPNA believes in a health care system in which each profession should do what it does best, where overlap should be minimized, and where each professional is expected to work to the full extent of their skill and ability. Turf protection, job protectionism, and political posturing of the old guard threaten teams every day. Interprofessional trust is vital and must be developed throughout the health care system.
CLPNA shared several perspectives related to opportunities within the new Act. One is that while evidence-based practice decisions are important to ensure quality, much of nursing research focuses on the Registered Nurse in acute care settings. We strongly encourage the support of research regarding Alberta LPNs. This will ensure stronger evidence for decisions in important policy areas such as staff mix, safety, and utilization.
Additionally, we feel the proposed patient charter requires more explanation. Currently, the concepts discussed for a patient charter are already covered under the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of each health profession, and within the Canada Health Act. It is unclear how centralizing this in one document would create positive change. More clarification and evidence of effectiveness of this type of charter is necessary.
The CLPNA recommends that its members learn more about the Alberta Health Act and its impact on health care in Alberta and the LPN profession: