New guardianship rules offer choice, safeguards

Alberta’s new Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Act will go into effect on Sept. 30 to replace legislation that is 30 years old.

Alberta’s new Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Act will go into effect on Sept. 30 to replace legislation that is 30 years old.

The new legislation will help Albertans who require assistance to remain as independent as possible and provides more choice and safeguards for protection.

Seniors and Community Supports Minister Mary Anne Jablonski, MLA for Red Deer North, said the act provides a range of assistance rather than an all-or-nothing approach to guardianship.

Sometimes all that’s needed is someone to provide some support. Others may need a co-decision maker, or help with specific decisions or temporary guardianship or trusteeship, she said.

“Full guardianship was too much for some people,” Jablonski said on Thursday.

Other changes include:

• A new process to screen co-decision makers, trustees and guardians.

• Allowing the Office of the Public Guardian and the Office of the Public Trustee to investigate complaints about co-decision makers, trustees and guardians.

• Standardizing the process to assess a person’s capacity to make decisions.

Jablonski said the legislation, which replaces the Dependent Adult Act, better protects the rights of adults who need help.

“The reason it does that is because it starts off presuming that everyone has capacity until proven otherwise. It’s like our justice system. You’re innocent until proven guilty.”

Other provinces are also looking at Alberta’s “cutting-edge” legislation as Canada’s baby boomer population ages, she said.

Eventually, the number of people with dementia and Alzheimer’s will equal those with cancer, stroke and heart disease, said Jablonski.

More than 4,300 Albertans participated in meetings, questionnaires and consultations during the development of the act.

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