Thursday, November 24, 2011

Public inquiries on health system matters part of new legislation

The Alberta government has introduced new legislation that will require the Health Quality Council of Alberta to report directly to the Legislative Assembly and establishes new inquiry powers.

Bill 24: Health Quality Council of Alberta Act addresses:

  • Independence: The HQCA will report annually on its activities directly to the Legislative Assembly. The legislation will not change HQCA’s current role to conduct independent assessments of patient safety issues upon request of the Health Minister or Alberta Health Services.
  • Health System Inquiries: Modeled on the Public Inquiries Act, Bill 24 would allow HQCA to appoint an independent panel of one or more individuals to conduct a health system inquiry, at the request of Cabinet. 

Under the Bill, these inquiries will:

  • Be open to the public;
  • Have the power to compel evidence and subpoena witnesses;
  • Enable details of confidential, personal health information to be heard in private; and,
  • Require the panel to present its final report directly to the Legislative Assembly.
  • Under Bill 24, the HQCA itself will not conduct these inquiries. The Council will have the ability to appoint a judge to the inquiry panel in accordance with existing Court protocol.

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