On November 8th, 2018, the Alberta Legislature passed a new law: Bill 21, An Act to Protect Patients; the majority of the law will go into effect on April 1, 2019. Bill 21 focuses on patient safety and clear consequences for health professionals who commit acts of sexual abuse and/or sexual misconduct against their patients. The new law applies to all health professionals regulated under the Health Professions Act, and as such it is important for opticians to become informed about the bill.
Bill 21 provides survivors of sexual abuse or sexual misconduct with access to treatment and counselling. It also establishes clear mandatory penalties for sexual abuse and sexual misconduct when perpetrated by a health professional on their patient, and requires disciplinary actions for sexual abuse and sexual misconduct to be posted online and publicly available.
To ensure public safety, regulated members who are found by a hearing tribunal to have committed sexual abuse will no longer be allowed to practice. If a hearing tribunal finds a regulated member’s actions constitute sexual misconduct, the health professional’s practice permit will be suspended.
The Alberta College and Association of Opticians supports this addition to the legislation, and we want to ensure that all of our members have the opportunity to learn about Bill 21 and the changes that it includes. The vast majority of our members will not notice a difference in the way they practice, however the legislation highlights the importance of being aware of the relationship between health professionals and their patients. The college plans to offer articles and continuing competency courses in relation to Bill 21 to help you become informed.