Most of Alberta’s regulated health professionals are regulated by one piece of legislation — the Health Professions Act (HPA). This legislation gives College’s their regulatory authority. It’s the legal framework or ‘rules’ by which the colleges govern and regulate their respective health professions. And is the rules by which Alberta’s health professionals can legally provide health care services in Alberta.
HPA was implemented by the government to consolidate Alberta’s many health professions under one common piece of legislation rather than multiple health profession specific Acts. HPA legislation also increases public input and representation on our College Councils and in our complaint investigation and member discipline process.
Governance under the Health Professions Act
Under the HPA, health professions are organized into regulatory bodies called “colleges.” These colleges are delegated powers and authorities for self-governance. Regulatory colleges are not post-secondary institutions.
Colleges are governed by a board of directors called a council. Each council consists of members of the profession (elected by their peers) and government-appointed public members. Public members provide valuable public input, oversight and representation into College policy and decision making processes.
Council’s role is to regulate the profession and oversee the College’s management, actions and policy development within the framework of HPA. This style/system of governance is called self-regulation. So, while government establishes the healthcare ‘rules,’ the various health professions (via their Colleges and councils) implement and enforce those rules for their respective profession.
Self-regulation is a privilege, not a right, granted by government on behalf of the public. Self-regulation is commonly used in technically specialized and complex areas, like healthcare, because the professions, not the government, has the specific knowledge and expertise needed to set education, competence, license, and practice requirements/standards.
The HPA requires that colleges carry out governance responsibilities in a manner that protects and serves the public interest. Health profession colleges do this by:
- Setting entry requirements (including required education, practical training, and examinations);
- Identifying services provided by regulated members, setting standards for professional practice;
- Setting continuing competency requirements; and
- Investigating complaints about regulated members and imposing disciplinary actions if required.
Regulatory colleges are not professional associations. Professional associations operate to represent the interests of their members and to advance the profession.