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.
Most notably, all health professionals (including Alberta’s Licensed Practical Nurses) found guilty of sexual abuse or misconduct will receive mandatory sanctions including practice permit cancellation or suspension starting April 1, 2019.
The Bill introduces a number of new requirements for regulatory colleges, including the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta, to increase transparency, ensure consistent sanctions, and provide patient protection and support.
The CLPNA is also consulting with members regarding Standards of Practice specific to these new amendments.
New Requirements under Bill 21
Bill 21 mandates new reporting obligations for regulated health professionals, requires new applicants to submit additional information to the Registrar, and requires specific discipline information to be posted on the website.
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.
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:
- The practice permit of any health professional who has committed sexual abuse of a patient must be permanently cancelled;
- The practice permit of any health professional who has committed sexual misconduct towards a patient must be suspended (at minimum, although more severe penalties are within the discretion of the hearing tribunal); and
- Any health professional whose practice permit is cancelled for sexual misconduct towards a patient has a five year prohibition on applying for reinstatement.
The CLPNA is currently developing Standards of Practice specific to these new amendments that must be submitted to the Minister of Health for approval by year’s end and will come into effect April 1, 2019.
Bill 21 mandates that the Standards of Practice:
- define who is considered a “patient” under the Standards;
- set rules for when a sexual relationship may occur between a regulated member and a former patient; and
- set rules for when a person who is a spouse or interdependent partner of a regulated member may also be a patient.
CLPNA will continue to communicate updates as the requirements outlined in the legislation are implemented.