Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed starting Monday, Minister of Health Tyler Shandro announced Thursday. (Photo by Paul Taillon/Office of the Premier)

Alberta gov’t aims to protect health-care sector from COVID-19 liability

The Alberta government has proposed a new legislation that will protect those in the health-care sector from COVID-19 civil liability.

In a release, officials say civil liability protection specific to COVID-19 does not exist in the Public Health Act or any other legislation in Alberta. The bill is called the COVID-19 Related Measures Act.

“Alberta’s health system has navigated this difficult situation throughout the pandemic while delivering quality health services and protecting Albertans,” said Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro in a release.

“The proposed legislation would ensure those delivering health services in good faith, according to public health guidance, cannot be held liable for damages due to COVID-19 spread or exposure. Those who are grossly negligent can and should be held accountable for their actions.”

The proposed bill is similar to legislation introduced across Canada, such as in British Columbia and Ontario, and the proposed approach in Saskatchewan.

The bill strikes a balance between protecting those who have dutifully followed the rules with still permitting civil action to proceed against those whose actions may have been grossly negligent.

Giving COVID-19 civil liability protection to the health care sector assures the health system can continue to deliver health services to Albertans without fear of being exposed to lawsuits and claims caused by exposure to COVID-19.

“The pandemic has put extreme pressure on the entire health system to provide health services to Albertans on a daily basis, in all health-care settings,” said Verna Yiu, president and CEO, Alberta Health Services in the release.

“Civil liability protection assures the health system a level of stability from additional challenges related to COVID-19.”

If passed, the legislation would protect, Alberta Health Services; regulated health professionals; health service facilities, such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, lodges, licensed supportive living, pharmacies and residential addiction treatment facilities.

The protection would not extend to those deemed grossly negligent.

If passed, the legislation would be retroactive to March 1, 2020.

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