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New advisory council to focus on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression

December 13, 2018

EDMONTON – Alberta Health Services (AHS) is launching a new Provincial Advisory Council early next year that will provide a direct connection between the health system and Alberta’s sexual and gender diverse patients, their families and care providers.

The work of the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Provincial Advisory Council will address the health needs of sexual and gender minorities, and contribute to creating a safe and more welcoming healthcare environment.

The SOGIE advisory council will include people from across the province who have lived experience within the healthcare system and understand the needs and barriers faced by sexual and gender minorities (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and 2 Spirit, or LGBTQ2S+).

“It is vital that all Albertans feel comfortable accessing health services in safe, inclusive and highly supportive environments,” says Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman. “I look forward to working with the advisory council to better meet the healthcare needs of gender and sexual diverse communities.”

Council members will advise on appropriate programs, services and strategies to address stigma within the healthcare system, and inform AHS how to support employees who identify with and work within these communities.

“Healthcare is a people business, and all people need to feel safe, welcomed and understood when they come to AHS for support,” says AHS President and CEO Dr. Verna Yiu.

“This new Provincial Advisory Council was developed in consultations with members of the public, patients and their families, who are helping AHS create a safe and inclusive system that supports all Albertans.”

Between May and October of this year, AHS representatives met in person with more than 60 members of the LGBTQ2S+ communities, and solicited feedback from more than 200 people through an online survey. Their insights and perspectives, as well as research and best practice, guide the work of the new advisory council, which reports to the Community Engagement Committee of the AHS Board. AHS is currently recruiting for council members.

“We’ve heard through our consultations that members of the LGBTQ2S+ communities often feel like their voices aren’t heard and their experiences not understood,” says AHS Community Engagement Committee Chair Dr. Brenda Hemmelgarn. “This new council will ensure that their voices will be heard, and their thoughts and ideas will help make sure AHS is both responsive and respectful of their healthcare needs.”

Visit https://together4health.ahs.ca/SOGIE-PAC for more information or to apply to join the Provincial Advisory Council.

AHS currently has three Provincial Advisory Councils focused on cancer care, addictions and mental health, and continuing care/seniors care.

Advisory councils bring valuable perspectives from patients, families and communities to help inform strategy, policy and planning development for AHS. In addition to Provincial Advisory Councils, AHS supports 12 Health Advisory Councils from across Alberta that bring the voices of their communities into program and service decisions; as well as a Wisdom Council, which provides advice into programs and services for Indigenous populations.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a quality, patient-focused health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.

For media inquiries, contact:

Sarah Hope
AHS Communications
403-943-1376