Thursday, November 11, 2010

Alberta's Bill 17 - Alberta Health Act

I'm not even sure that some key aspects of this legislation are sustainable under Canada's current legal frameworks.

In particular, I'm looking at sections 10 and 11 of the legislation, which appear to be an attempt on the part of the government to prevent Albertans from seeking redress in the courts should the Health department do something egregious:

Proceedings not subject to review

10 A decision or action of the Minister, the Health Advocate or any employee or agent of either of them shall not be questioned,
reviewed or made the subject of a proceeding in any court by application for judicial review or otherwise
, and no order shall be made or process entered or proceedings taken in any court by way of injunction, declaratory judgment, prohibition or mandamus or otherwise to question, review, prohibit, restrain or compel the Minister, the Health Advocate or any employee or agent of either
of them.

11 No action lies against the Minister, the Crown in right of Alberta, the Health Advocate or any employee or agent of any of them for anything done or omitted to be done by that person in good faith while carrying out that person’s duties or exercising that person’s powers under this Act or the regulations.

Just thinking out loud here, but this looks distinctly like Alberta is trying to exempt itself, and its actions under this act, from judicial review and scrutiny. Further, they are trying to take away from Albertans, the right to challenge the government's decisions with respect to Health Care.

Given that within the constitution there are guarantees access to the courts for redress, one might suspect that Sections 10, 11 of the proposed Alberta Health Act are in fact in violation of Canada's Constitution and Charter of Rights:

24. (1) Anyone whose rights or freedoms, as guaranteed by this Charter, have been infringed
or denied may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction to obtain such remedy as
the court considers appropriate and just in the circumstances.

There is another question that we should be asking ourselves. Why is it that the government feels a need to attempt to exempt its decisions from scrutiny? Just what has the government got up its sleeve that it putting in place an obvious legal obstacle to challenging its decision making in this arena?

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