MLA Jackie Lovely

MLA Lovely: Clearing up false claims about Bill 66

Opinion

For those of you who do not wish to have a COVID-19 vaccine, it is not required.

Bill 66, the Public Health Amendment Act strengthens the rights of Albertans by removing all sections in the Act that authorize a minister to modify legislation by order; establishing clear checks and balances on government authorities; requiring orders that apply to the public be published online; removing unnecessary government powers to order mandatory vaccinations; and, requiring a review of the act every 10 years.

Bill 66 allows government to respond to emergencies in a quick and effective manner while still ensuring that our freedoms and liberties are protected.

I have also been made aware of some false claims surrounding Bill 66 so here are some myth busters that should clear up any confusion.

· CLAIM: Bill 66 increases the power of executive officers to issue orders.

TRUTH: Bill 66 does not “increase” the power of executive officers to issue orders. The Bill allows officers to issue orders based on a report or a test from an existing reputable source.

· CLAIM: Bill 66 increases the statute of limitations for the prosecution of health order offences.

TRUTH: Bill 66 aligns the time limits to prosecute offenses with the Safety Codes Act. It just matches what other existing legislation already accounts for.

· CLAIM: Bill 66 fails to restrict the power of the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) to a public health emergency.

TRUTH: The ability of the Chief Medical Officer of Health to exercise authorities granted under the Public Health Act outside of a declared emergency is long-standing and was not changed at all by Bill 10.

· CLAIM: Bill 66 fails to require the CMOH to provide regular reports to the Legislature.

TRUTH: The Chief Medical Officer of Health is not an independent officer of the Legislature like the Auditor General or the Child and Youth Advocate, she reports to the Deputy Minister of Health and the Minister of Health.

· CLAIM: Bill 66 legally validates the existing CMOH orders made over the past thirteen months.

TRUTH: COVID-19 is still with us. Of course, Bill 66 doesn’t invalidate measures for the ongoing pandemic.

· CLAIM: Bill 66 introduces a provision to allow the government to collect expenses related to the enforcement of a health order.

TRUTH: Currently, when a person repeatedly refuses to comply with an order, the taxpayer assumes the costs of legal fees associated with follow-up actions, such as obtaining a court order. This change allows AHS to recover those legal expenses by applying to the court. The court must approve.

· CLAIM: Bill 66 does not amend the law so an individual subject to an order can apply to the court on an urgent basis for review.

TRUTH: The court has always been available to all Albertans, even during the pandemic. Courts have indeed been used during the pandemic.