Yesterday Alberta introduced Bill 30 that will require public appointees (who are not members of the profession) to constitute 50% of the Council and core committees of its 29 health profession regulators. This simple change will have significant implications. One half of the government appointees of the governing Council for each health regulator will be appointed directly by the government. The Council establishes the priorities and policies of the regulator and has oversight of the effectiveness of the regulator in protecting the public interest. In addition, one half of the committee members and panels of the complaint review committee and hearing tribunal of each health regulator will have to be publicly appointed. Previously only 25% were publicly appointed. This change will end the decade-long established practice where elected members of the profession formed the majority of the Council and committees. Regulators will have to revise their by-laws to adjust the size of their Councils, deciding whether to simply make them larger or whether to reduce their size at the same time as the 50% requirement is achieved.
The Bill signals that, conceptually, health professional regulation in Alberta will no longer be self-regulation by the profession. Rather, it is shared regulation between the profession and the public to serve and protect the public interest.
The change follows much more comprehensive reform proposals for the regulation of health professions in British Columbia. The BC reforms have not yet been introduced in their Legislative Assembly. As significant as the Alberta proposal is, it falls short of the comprehensive reforms proposed by recent studies across Canada. For example, Bill 30 does not implement a skills and competency based selection process by an independent body. Professional members will still be elected and public appointees can be selected on any basis deemed fit by the government, including political connections. This revision still remains a perspective-based model of governance as opposed to a competency-based model. The Bill also does not require Councils to be reduced to a workable size (e.g., 8-12 people). In fact, the result might well be larger Councils. Bill 30 also does not address other proposed reforms under active discussion such as combining health regulatory Colleges into fewer bodies or the establishment of an oversight body.
However, Bill 30 reinforces the sense that the regulation of professions across Canada is in for a period of rapid change.
The Bill can be found at: https://www.assembly.ab.ca/net/index.aspx?p=bills_status&selectbill=030&legl=30&session=2