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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Health Advisory Council?

Health Advisory Councils act in an advisory capacity to Alberta Health Services and are established under section 9(4) of the Regional Health Authorities Act (1994). It is the responsibility of the Alberta Health Services Board to approve a Bylaw to establish Health Advisory Councils which are approved by the Minister of Health and Wellness. The Alberta Health Services Board appoints members to Health Advisory Councils.

Councils support the strategic direction of the organization by engaging members of communities throughout Alberta in a respectful, transparent and accountable manner. Public participation is essential to improving the quality and accountability of health services. Establishing and working with Councils is an important way to ensure that services are more responsive to the needs of those who use them.
AHS values community input. Continuing to draw on community members for feedback and input will help us to meet our mission of providing a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.

How were the Councils established?

A framework was developed to enable AHS to improve the opportunity for input from communities on health care services. This followed a consultation process which included input from previous Community Health Councils.

The former Community Health Councils had been established by the previous regional health authorities. These Councils varied considerably in their mandate, effectiveness and the support they received. The creation of AHS as a single health service delivery organization for the province provided the opportunity to develop a new structure which builds on the best of the pre-existing model.

The information gathered through a consultation process lead to the formation of a new Health Advisory Council Charter. On June 30, 2009, the AHS Board approved a Bylaw and a Charter establishing 12 Health Advisory Councils, affirming AHS’ commitment to engage with Albertans, to bring forward the local public perspective on the health needs of communities.

A recruitment drive throughout Alberta concluded on September 18, 2009. All applicants were interviewed and the AHS Board made appointments to Councils concluding in December2009. Each Council met in January 2010 for the first time for orientation.

Why are there 12 Health Advisory Councils and how were the respective geographical areas established?

The geographical areas for each Council were developed based on a number of criteria. Where possible, we respected historic travel patterns of Albertans and ensured the more remote areas of the province had a presence on Councils. To enable local input Council size was also a consideration. Once the above criteria were considered, the appropriate number of Councils was deemed to be 12.

What are the roles and responsibilities of the Health Advisory Councils?

We act as an advisory body to AHS, providing feedback from the public to support the strategic direction of AHS. In this role, we provide:

  • a public perspective on what is working well in the health care system and areas in need of improvement;
  • reports on what residents are saying regarding health services in their area;
  • information from AHS to the public to identify issues or trends from a local perspective;
  • feedback to AHS on matters pertaining to health services and delivery;
  • creative solutions to AHS for improving health care while representing the diversity of the local and regional perspective;
  • a link between local communities and AHS management;
  • guidance on strategies to further engage the community on health care delivery.

Councils are not responsible for resolving patient care concerns. AHS has well established processes and a Patient Concerns Department which works with individuals and families to address concerns. Concerns, feedback or complaints about patient care should be directed to the Patient Concerns Department.

Who can become a Council member? Who is ineligible?

Council members must live within the geographical area defined for each Council. They must be at least 18 years of age and have a demonstrated interest in the health of the community and in health issues generally.

Council members are individuals who can represent diversity within the community and who possess broad knowledge in areas such as mental health, addictions, wellness promotion, education sector, senior's services, Indigenous health, children and youth services, disabilities and minorities. Members should be able to fairly represent the diversity of the geographic area of their Council and possess a broad community perspective on health matters rather than be focused on a singular concern or issue.

What is a Council member expected to do?

In addition to attending and participating in Council meetings, members share their views and opinions and represent those of their communities. The local knowledge of members and their insight is important as they receive information and input from the community regarding health needs and services. Members also help to inform and educate the public about health care and help identify opportunities within the community where health care can be improved.

How are the Chair and Vice Chair selected?

Council members recommend a Chair and Vice Chair to AHS. The positions of Chair and Vice Chair are appointed by the Alberta Health Services Board.

Are Council members paid?

No. These are voluntary positions. However, out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of Council activities will be reimbursed according to AHS guidelines.

What support are Councils provided by Alberta Health Services?

Each Council is supported by an Advisory Council Officer from within the AHS Community Engagement Department. Secretariat support includes administrative resources, provision of documents and reports, liaison and planning as well as strategic support. Local and provincial leaders from AHS also provide opportunities for Councils to engage with facility and program leaders.

Is the general public made aware of the recommendations of the Councils?

Yes. Meetings are open to the public unless a Council determines that part or all of a meeting should be private. Additionally, minutes of meetings and the annual reports of each Council will be available on the AHS website, along with other information.

What value is placed on the input of Councils?

Alberta Health Services is committed to community engagement and is developing a comprehensive community engagement strategy. Engaging Albertans is an integral part of health service delivery and allows for planning and delivery of health care to better respond to the needs of the community. Consequently, health care leaders will work closely with the Councils to ensure transparency and accountability in how services are planned and delivered.

Are members expected to travel?

Yes. Members are expected to attend meetings in person where possible. Use of phone and video conference links will be available when needed to support attendance by all members.

Where and how often do Council meetings occur in each area?

The location of each Council meeting will vary. Each Council considers where it would like to meet and meetings may occur in various locations throughout the Health Advisory Council area. Councils meet four to six times annually. Meeting dates and locations are posted on the Alberta Health Services website.

Where can more information be found about Health Advisory Councils?

Phone: 1-877-275-8830
E-mail: community.engagement@albertahealthservices.ca