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Alberta

Province announces next step to revamped health care system

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Setting the foundation for a refocused health system

Proposed legislation would support the refocusing of Alberta’s health care system to ensure Albertans get the care they need when and where they need it.

On Nov. 8, 2023, Alberta’s government announced plans for a refocused health care system to ensure patients are receiving the care they need, when and where they need it. To achieve this, Alberta’s government will be creating four new organizations, one for each priority health services sector: acute care, primary care, continuing care and mental health and addiction.

If passed, the Health Statutes Amendment Act would enable the government to take the necessary next steps to refocus the province’s health care system. The legislation would ensure Albertans have a system that works for them by prioritizing their need to find a primary care provider, receive urgent care without long waits, have access to the best continuing care options and obtain excellent mental health and addiction treatment.

“We are taking another step toward improving health care by updating legislation and enabling the governance and oversight required to refocus the health system. The critical improvements to transparency and accountability will help support the successful refocusing of the health care system to one that is responsive, effective and reflects the needs and priorities of Albertans today and for future generations.”

Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Health

The Health Statutes Amendment Act will enable the transition from one regional health authority, Alberta Health Services, to an integrated system of four sector-based provincial health agencies including primary care, acute care, continuing care and mental health and addiction. The agencies will be responsible for delivering integrated health services, ensuring Albertans receive timely access to care, regardless of where they live.

The Health Statutes Amendment Act establishes roles for an oversight minister and sector minister. The Minister of Health will take on the role of oversight minister, responsible for setting the strategic direction of the overall health system. A sector minister will be responsible for a specific health services sector. For example, the sector minister for Recovery Alberta is the Minister of Mental Health and Addiction. On the recommendation of the oversight minister, additional health service sectors may be established and designate a minister responsible for that newly created sector.

Enhanced government oversight will help Alberta’s government to better direct resources to the front lines where they are needed the most, improve patient care overall and support health care professionals.

“Mental health and addiction have been growing issues within our society and need to be prioritized within our health care system. Amid an addiction crisis, a refocused health system will allow for mental health and addiction services to get the attention, oversight and focus they need. Recovery Alberta would allow for improved mental health and addiction care across the province as an important part of an integrated health system.”

Dan Williams, Minister of Mental Health and Addiction

“Refocusing Alberta’s healthcare system is a crucial step towards ensuring that we can deliver a framework that prioritizes accessibility, accountability, and patient-centered care. By streamlining operations, improving oversight and fostering collaboration, we are setting a strong foundation for a healthcare system that is better equipped to address the diverse needs of each of our communities.”

Jason Nixon, Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services

The legislation will enable the minister of health to transfer employees or classes of employees from AHS to the new sector-based organizations, once established. During the transition period, AHS will be enabled to continue operating as a regional health authority. Employee transfers will be seamless, maintaining existing bargaining relationships and collective agreements. This will ensure stability for the workforce, unions and government as the health system refocus is implemented. There will be no job losses for staff who transition into the new organizations.

Amendments to be made to existing legislation

The Health Statutes Amendment Act includes amendments to the Regional Health Authorities Act and the Health Information Act, which have not been updated since the 1990s.

As part of these amendments, the name of the Regional Health Authorities Act will change to the Provincial Health Agencies Act. The amended Provincial Health Agencies Act will remove outdated references to allow the transition from a single regional health authority to a unified, sector-specific provincial health system. This will clarify the scope and accountabilities of provincial health agencies and health service providers going forward.

The amendments will also place responsibility on the provincial health agencies for operational planning and oversight of clinical service delivery across the province. This will enable provincial health agencies to set priorities in the provision of health service delivery. The agencies will also be tasked with sharing information and collaborating closely to support seamless patient care as the transition to the refocused health care system takes place.

Alberta’s government is committed to ensuring that patient information continues to remain safe and secure through this transition. Amendments to the Health Information Act will be introduced to support the new health system refocus and to support the establishment of the Canadian Centre of Recovery Excellence. These amendments will allow the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction, the four new provincial health agencies, the Health Quality Council of Alberta and Canadian Centre of Recovery Excellence to have the authority to use health information for health system purposes.

If passed, the Health Statutes Amendment Act will enable Recovery Alberta, the mental health and addiction provincial health agency, to begin operating in the summer of 2024. The primary care, acute care and continuing care provincial health agencies are expected to be established in the fall.

Quick facts

  • Consequential amendments are changes made to existing legislation due to new legislation being passed. These amendments are necessary to ensure legislative alignment with the proposed amendments to the Regional Health Authorities Act.
    • To support the Regional Health Authorities Act amendments and ensure alignment, 43 other acts are being consequentially amended – for example, to replace references to “regional health authority” with “provincial health agency” where necessary.
  • AHS will remain a key provider of health services, and in fall 2024 will transition to focusing on the provision of acute care services.
  • Alberta’s government introduced the Canadian Centre of Recovery Excellence Act which, if passed, will establish the Canadian Centre of Recovery Excellence (CoRE) as a public agency that would support the Government of Alberta, including Mental Health and Addiction, and Recovery Alberta in advancing the Alberta Recovery Model.

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This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Alberta

Defending Provincial Priorities

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News release from Free Alberta Strategy

The recent debate around zoning across the province is a prime example of federal encroachment.

The federal government offered money to cities to help with housing affordability challenges, but only made the money available if cities promised to change zoning policies.

As you are aware, The Free Alberta Strategy was built on the concept that the federal government needs to keep out of provincial jurisdiction.

For years, Ottawa has been watering down the constitutional delineation of duties between the federal government and the provincial government.

Bill 18 – the Provincial Priorities Act – is anticipated to pass in the Alberta Legislature this week, and represents a huge step in the direction of greater provincial jurisdictional autonomy.

The Provincial Priorities Act has been dubbed the “Keep Out of Our Backyard” law by Alberta Premier Danielle Smith.

Under the Provincial Priorities Act, any agreements between the federal government and any provincial entities – including municipalities – must receive provincial approval to be considered valid.

Agreements between the federal government and provincial entities lacking Alberta’s endorsement will be deemed illegal under this legislation.

When the legislation was announced, Smith was not mincing words:

“It is not unreasonable for Alberta to demand fairness from Ottawa. They have shown time and again that they will put ideology before practicality, which hurts Alberta families and our economy. We are not going to apologize for continuing to stand up for Albertans so we get the best deal possible.

“Since Ottawa refuses to acknowledge the negative impacts of its overreach, even after losing battles at the Federal and Supreme Courts, we are putting in additional measures to protect our provincial jurisdiction to ensure our province receives our fair share of federal tax dollars and that those dollars are spent on the priorities of Albertans.”

Although the federal government has limited direct authority in provincial jurisdiction, it can leverage its substantial financial resources to prompt or pressure provincial governments into specific actions.

The recent debate around zoning across the province is a prime example of federal encroachment.

The federal government offered money to cities to help with housing affordability challenges, but only made the money available if cities promised to change zoning policies.

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek tried to claim that the federal housing funds were not contingent on the city’s rezoning efforts, but federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser posted a pretty strong response on social media platform X (formerly Twitter):

“If Calgary, or any other city, does not meet the conditions they have agreed to, we will withhold funding under the agreement.”

The federal government played the same trick in many other provinces, too.

But, notably, in Quebec, the federal government just gave the Quebec government the cash and let them distribute it to their municipalities without conditions.

It’s tempting to think this is just more federal bias towards Quebec.

But, actually, this is a great example of how pushing back can have results.

You see, the Provincial Priorities Act in Alberta is modeled after existing legislation in Quebec, known as “An Act Respecting the Ministère du Conseil exécutif,” which prohibits any municipal body from negotiating or entering into agreements with the federal government or its agencies without explicit authorization from the Quebec government.

If Ottawa wants to meddle in Quebec’s jurisdiction, it must first seek Quebec’s approval.

And it works – the federal government got back in line.

Now, with the Provincial Priorities Act, if Ottawa wants to meddle in Alberta’s jurisdiction, it must first seek Alberta’s approval.

It’s time for Ottawa to recognize Alberta’s autonomy and respect our right to determine our own future.

At the Free Alberta Strategy, we understand that constant vigilance is necessary – every time we establish a boundary, the federal government tries to circumvent it.

We will continue to inform you about what’s happening in Alberta and fight to keep Ottawa out.

But we need your support.

With your help, we can continue our work to defend Alberta’s sovereignty and serve the best interests of all Albertans.

Enough is enough – we will not stand by while our interests are disregarded.

If you are in a financial position to contribute to our work, please donate!

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Alberta

Alberta’s government honours the province’s top athletes, teams, coaches and officials with 2023 Sport Recognition Awards

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Minister of Tourism and Sport Joseph Schow presents the 2023 Alberta Sport Recognition Awards, honouring the province’s top athletes, teams, coaches and officials.

Celebrating excellence in Alberta sport

Alberta is a global leader in sport, and it’s thanks to the athletes, coaches and officials who dedicate themselves to excellence in their craft. The Alberta Sport Recognition program was established in 1987 to acknowledge the outstanding achievements and commitment of coaches, officials and volunteers in the province.

Recipients of the 2023 Sport Recognition Awards represent the best in sport from across the province, from exceptional athletes to hard-working coaches and officials. Through their unwavering dedication to sport, these individuals are contributing to Alberta’s reputation as a global leader in sport and help make our province the best place in the world to live, visit and play.

“These high-performance athletes, coaches, and officials have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in international and national competitions and are deserving of recognition for their efforts. I am proud of their contributions and grateful for their leadership in making Alberta a province that lives the spirit of sport.”

Joseph Schow, Minister of Tourism and Sport

“The award recipients have demonstrated dedication, passion and excellence which have set them apart as true champions in their respective fields. Many have reached the pinnacle of performance and each of the recipients has demonstrated unparalleled commitment and skill, inspiring others to reach for excellence in all they do.”

Dale Henwood, chair, Alberta Sports Hall of Fame

The 2023 award recipients are:

  • Junior Male Athlete of the Year – Nikita Ciudin – Sprint Canoe
  • Junior Female Athlete of the Year – Julia Bartlett – Biathlon
  • Junior Team of the Year – Team Tao – Curling – Johnson Tao, Jaedon Neuert, Ben Morin, Adam Naugler, Zach Davies and Skip Wilson (coach)
  • Open Male Athlete of the Year – Jeremiah Lauzon – Athletics
  • Open Female Athlete of the Year – Alexandria Loutitt – Ski Jumping
  • Open Team of the Year – Team Canada 3×3 Basketball – Michelle Plouffe, Katherine Plouffe, Paige Crozon, Kacie Bosch, Jamie Scott, and Kim Gaucher (coach)
  • Coaching Recognition Award: Rachel Koroscil – Biathlon
  • Coaching Recognition Award: Marty Birky – Basketball
  • Technical Official Recognition Award – Barb Bush – Springboard Diving
  • Technical Official Recognition Awards – Matthew Kallio – Basketball

Quick facts

  • In 2002, the Athlete and Team of the Year awards were added to the awards program to acknowledge high performance athletes and teams who are promoting Alberta on the national and international stage, and recognize their pursuit of sport development goals.
  • The Coach Recognition Award recognizes coaches for their outstanding achievements in developing Alberta’s amateur athletes.
  • The Official Recognition Award recognizes outstanding achievements in and commitments to officiating.
  • Award recipients were selected by a committee and considered results from the 2022/2023 competition season.
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