Alberta is working on a bill aimed at helping healthcare workers, providing them legal protection from lawsuits regarding COVID-19.
United Conservative backbencher Richard Gotfried elaborated, saying that legislation offers protection, but will do nothing for any healthcare workers and care homes that have been proven to be demonstrably derelict. They say that this bill is more about holding people to account, saying that lawsuits about COVID-19 should only happen when death and illness happens due to proper healthcare standards not being met.
The bill is to protect healthcare workers, like doctors, pharmacists, and the like, from the kinds of frivolous suits that law firms like MyDefence.ca call foul on. Gross negligence, they note, would have to happen for lawsuits, involving flagrant failure to implement or follow an accepted standard of care as per defined by the law.
The proposed law would also be retroactive to March 1, 2020, which would be around Canada officially got hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
If the law passes, any existing lawsuit must be amended to meet the proper threshold of gross negligence. Even any cases that have been properly handled by law firms like MyDefence.ca and the like.
Guardian Law Group partner Mathew Farrell wonders about the law and its objective, noting that the bill somewhat compromises the accountability that the threat of legal action helps promote.
Farrell stated that, should the bill pass, the firm will fire back with a constitutional challenge, arguing that it would handle seniors and the less able-bodied differently.
Alberta has seen around 2,000 COVID-related deaths, with 61% happening in long-term care facilities or supportive living sites, especially during the earlier months of the pandemic.
Death numbers have dropped as the months passed, due to seniors and care-home residents were vaccinated.
According to Alberta’s government, there are four outstanding lawsuits in the province that would have to be amended as per the terms of the legislation should it pass, and would lead to more lawsuits.
Notably, the legislation is similar to the rules that Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the British Columbia have. Saskatchewan is also considering similar legislation.