Alberta Bill-207 (2019): Private Member's Bill on Conscience Protection for Health Care Workers

15 November 2019

Bill 207 was an Alberta private member’s bill that would have secured conscience protection for health care providers so that they are not compelled to participate in providing services against their deeply held beliefs. Bill 207 was sponsored by MLA Dan Williams (Peace River), introduced in the Alberta Legislature on Nov 7, 2019. A committee voted it down Nov. 21, 2019 (see Global News report), but the legislature will debate whether or not to accept that recommendation in February 2020.

The EFC supports conscience protection for health care professionals and encouraged Alberta residents to support Bill 207. 

Albertans and residents of other provinces can help by contacting their provincial political representatives to let them know that freedom of conscience is important to you and to articulate your support for legislation like Alberta Bill 207. Here is some sample wording you could use in a phone call or email/letter (pdf, docx). You can also use the talking points below, provided by the EFC.

Find your Alberta MLA’s name and contact information.
Learn more about conscience protection.

Talking points on Bill 207 

A doctor’s conscience is based in beliefs that are deeply held and central to their life and their approach to medicine. The decision to participate in ending a patient’s life is not based in a person’s preference or opinion, but in deeply held beliefs about life and death. The government has an obligation to promote respect and tolerance of all, including religious minorities.
It is possible to protect both patient care and freedom of conscience and religion. We don’t have to choose between them. Alberta’s Ministry of Health can look for new and better ways to improve patient care and meet patient needs – while protecting the fundamental rights and freedoms of medical staff.
Some are saying Bill 207 is redundant or unnecessary - but there are health care workers who support and welcome this legislation. Not every health care professional will have a conscientious objection, but for those that do, it’s important that we heed their concerns and respect and protect their deeply held beliefs.
Some have expressed concern that this bill may have unintended consequences. We believe it’s important enough to protect freedom of conscience and religion that we should pass the best possible legislation and then address unintended consequences as they arise.
Some critics have suggested that Bill 207 could impact patient access. It’s not clear how patient access to services would be any different than what is currently happening in the Alberta, but if there is an impact, we suggest the Ministry of Health develop solutions and workarounds that provide patient care and access to services, rather than violating fundamental conscience rights.
The first protection in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is for the freedom of conscience and religion. Bill 207 affirms that protection and puts it in provincial legislation.