HCA Regulation FAQs

These FAQs on HCA regulation in Alberta are current as of November 16, 2022, and will be periodically updated.

If you have a question that is not found below, please Email HCA Regulation to receive a response to your specific question.

CLPNA and Regulatory College Questions

Currently, the CLPNA is the regulatory college for the practical nurse profession. In the future, we will regulate Health Care Aides (HCAs) as a separate health profession. When regulation comes into effect, our name will change to the College of Licensed Practical Nurses and Health Care Aides of Alberta (CLHA).

A regulatory college exists to protect the public. We regulate the profession by setting and maintaining standards for registration, practice, and conduct for practical nurses and, in the future, HCAs.

Learn more about the CLPNA

Under the Health Professions Act, a college cannot negotiate wages or hourly rates for HCAs.

This is a separate process that must be managed by employers and unions. For more information on the different between a regulator, association, and union, please see the article on this topic.

The College will charge a fee for HCA registration to cover the operational costs of regulating the profession. These fees will cover the registration process, the conduct process, and providing support to registrants and employers in the areas of professional practice and policy.

The College operates as a not-for-profit, and this means that the fees will be set as low as possible to meet the operational requirements of regulation.

Fees will be determined closer to the date that HCAs will be regulated. The amount is unknown at this time.

Employers play an important role in building and maintaining quality workplaces that support public safety. Employers accomplish this through internal policies, procedures, and job descriptions that utilize healthcare providers within their scope of practice.

Employers, as stakeholders in regulation, will be consulted on the standards of practice and on revisions to the Competency Profile for HCAs.

The costs to the employer in regulation implementation are not covered by the College; however, the shift from the HCA Directory and the move to regulation are not expected to create a significant financial burden on the employer.

In the future, Health Care Aides will receive information on how to be involved in Council, Committees, and will continue to participate in consultations.

HCA Directory Questions

The Alberta HCA Directory collects relevant demographic, employment, and core competency information from HCAs across Alberta. It also provides a centralized location for HCA information and updates. The HCA Directory is administered by the CLPNA on behalf of the government of Alberta.

Learn more about the Alberta HCA Directory

The College will be working with Alberta Health to develop a clear process for grandfathering those on the HCA Directory to the new regulation. The College expects that many of the HCAs currently approved on the Directory will be considered for HCA regulation.

Please note, being grandfathered will not exempt registrants from paying annual registration fees.

Currently, there are three competency statuses on the HCA Directory:

  • Certified: HCAs who have successfully completed and received a Health Care Aide certificate in Alberta.
  • Substantial Equivalence: Graduates of a Health Care Aide program outside of Alberta, internationally educated nurses, and individuals with education as a Health Care Aide, personal support worker, continuing care assistant, nurse, or other profession considered to provide direct patient care.
  • Deemed Competent: HCAs who have no formal healthcare education and have been assessed using a completed competency assessment tool by a regulated nurse employed by an operator.

There may be some distinct rules for those that are currently considered as Deemed Competent; however, these have not yet been established.

The College looks forward to working with Alberta Health and employers to determine any expectations for HCA registrants.

HCAs in Alberta providing care in publicly funded work settings must be enrolled on the Alberta HCA Directory.

Upon regulation, all HCAs, no matter where they work, must be regulated and, if not already on the Directory, they will need to apply for registration with the College.

HCA General Questions

Regulation means that HCAs will be held to common education and practice standards to enter the profession. HCAs will meet requirements for ongoing competence and be held accountable through the professional conduct process.

Regulation is intended to improve public safety through standardization and the delivery of safe, quality care from HCAs.

The HCA Directory is a database of information related to HCAs practicing in Alberta. The Directory is not a regulatory college and does not have oversight of HCA practice.

The Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) (Chapter 7) states that certified workers must be recognized as qualified to work by a regulatory body in another province or territory that regulates that occupation without having to go through significant additional training, work experience, examination, or assessment, unless an exception has been posted.

HCAs are not regulated in other Canadian jurisdictions at this time and therefore the CFTA does not apply.

HCAs from other provinces coming into Alberta’s regulated system would need to be assessed for substantial equivalence to ensure all the requirements for registration as are met. More details on these requirements will be outlined as HCAs become regulated.

With the regulation of HCAs by the College, a public registry of HCAs will be available and accessible to the public.

Additionally, decisions of complaint hearings will also be publicly available on the College’s website.

Upon regulation, components of workforce data will be available to stakeholders as part of the College’s annual reporting requirements.

Current and past annual reports for the CLPNA are available here.

The College is working with the Canadian Institute for Health Information to begin reporting HCA workforce data nationally. Currently, there is no set date for when this will be publicly available.

Practice and Policy Questions

Under the Health Professions Act (HPA), health professionals do not have exclusive scopes of practice and instead have expanded scopes of practice to adapt to changes and needs within the healthcare system.

This means that there may be an overlap in scope of practice between many healthcare professions including Health Care Aides, Licensed Practical Nurses, and Registered Nurses.

When Health Care Aides become a regulated profession in Alberta, their professional practice statement, scope of practice, and code of ethics will be further defined in the HPA and HCA Profession Regulation. These documents, along with the Competency Profile for HCAs, will further clarify the role and accountabilities of an HCA.

The College will provide guidance and clarification related to HCA scope of practice, legislation, and regulation, to enable safe, ethical, and competent care.

Both standards of practice and a code of ethics are legal documents developed by the College in consultation with Alberta Health and stakeholders.

Standards of practice for HCAs will be one tool in defining the professional expectations and conduct expected from HCAs in Alberta.

A code of ethics for HCAs will define the values and ethical practice requirements of the profession.

Standards of practice, code of ethics, and employer policies should be aligned to ensure HCAs are working within their scope of practice and required expectations.

A restricted activity is a high-risk health service that only those healthcare professions who are specifically authorized by regulation can perform.

Restricted activities specific to the HCA profession are currently under consideration and will be confirmed at a later date.

Registration Questions

Registration involves the assessment of an applicant to determine if they meet the requirements to become a regulated member of the profession.

To register with a college, applicants must submit required documents, which are then reviewed. Then a decision is made whether to issue a practice permit, defer the decision until a certain requirement is met, or to deny the application.

As the relevant legislation has yet to be made, the exact requirements are not yet known.

The College will establish requirements for entry into the profession, which will include graduation from an approved program, successful completion of the provincial exam, and requirements of English language proficiency.

Yes. When a practice permit is issued, the registrant is required to renew that practice permit annually. In addition, there are some requirements for renewal that are expected to maintain a practice permit. These can include meeting the requirements of the continuing competence program, providing declarations of good character and fitness to practice, and paying renewal fees.

Continuing Competence Questions

A continuing competence program provides a framework to ensure that registrants are continually learning to enhance their skills.

The College is required to implement a continuing competence program for HCAs within 18 months of regulation, although it may be implemented sooner.

The continuing competence program will be specific to the needs of the HCA, but it will be closely aligned with the existing continuing competence program for LPNs.

The College is required to perform an audit of registrants’ continuing competence learning.

The College will not be conducting practice visits initially but will continually review this policy to determine whether such visits should be conducted.

Conduct Questions

When regulated, HCAs will be responsible for delivering safe, competent, and ethical care in accordance with the Health Professions Act (HPA). As part of being regulated, HCAs will be accountable to the HPA as well as the regulations, standards of practice, and code of ethics of the HCA profession.

The complaint process ensures that professionals regulated under the HPA meet the standards of their profession. The HPA guides and provides the framework in which the College manages and handles complaints.

The regulatory college manages complaints for the protection of the public. The College receives complaints and conducts investigations to determine whether unprofessional conduct has occurred.

Unprofessional conduct is defined in the HPA as a lack of knowledge, skill, or judgement when providing a professional service. Unprofessional conduct is defined as conduct that is in contravention of the HPA, standards of practice, code of ethics, or other relevant legislation or conduct that may harm the integrity of the profession.

A complaint can be submitted to the College when professional practice falls below the expected standards. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • practice or competency concerns,
  • patient safety concerns,
  • concerns of fitness to practice,
  • breach of privacy/confidentiality,
  • theft/fraud/deceit,
  • co-worker harassment/bullying, and
  • sexual abuse/sexual misconduct.

Anyone can submit a complaint to the College concerning a regulated professional’s practice, conduct, incapacity, or behaviour.

Once HCAs are regulated, employers will have the legal responsibility to report an HCA if the HCA is suspended, terminated, or resigns during an employer investigation.

HCAs will be required to report any unprofessional conduct by another regulated healthcare provider, including another HCA. HCAs will also be required to self-report to the College if they are incapacitated and unable to meet the standards of their profession.

For a complaint to be accepted, it must be in writing, dated, and signed. Anonymous complaints are not accepted.

After a complaint is received, the College’s conduct department will open a complaint file. The person making the complaint (the complainant), the investigated HCA, and the HCA’s employer (if the employer is not the complainant) will be contacted to review the complaint and the process.

Every complaint received by the College is investigated. During the investigation process, relevant information and documents will be gathered. The complainant, the investigated HCA, and any relevant witnesses will be interviewed.

The HCA, as a regulated member under the HPA, will be obligated to fully participate in the investigation.

A regulated professional can continue to work during the disciplinary process unless otherwise directed.

When reviewing a complaint, it may be determined that the conduct places the public at a significant risk of harm. The Complaints Director may recommend that a practice permit be suspended or put conditions on the permit if the alleged conduct poses significant risk.

Once the investigation is complete, a written investigation report is submitted to the Complaints Director for review. The Complaints Director will determine whether the matter constitutes unprofessional conduct.

Every complaint received is resolved following the guidelines outlined in the HPA. There are several ways to resolve a complaint, including, but not limited to:

  • Refer to a disciplinary hearing: A disciplinary hearing is a formal, legal process used to resolve complaints.
  • Resolve the complaint by consent resolution: This resolution involves an agreement between all parties involved: the Complaints Director, the complainant, and the Investigated Member. In consent resolution, the member acknowledges the conduct is unprofessional and agrees to the remedial activities to resolve.
  • Dismiss the complaint: A complaint may be dismissed if it is trivial, vexatious, or if there is insufficient evidence of unprofessional conduct.