Alberta bill would protect health workers, care homes from some COVID-19 lawsuits

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EDMONTON — Alberta has introduced a bill to give legal protection to health workers and long-term care-home operators facing lawsuits over COVID-19.

Richard Gotfried, a United Conservative backbencher, says Bill 70 offers protection but is not a free pass in the courts to those who have been demonstrably derelict.

The bill exempts a range of workers, including doctors, pharmacists, and care-home operators, from being sued over COVID-19 unless it is for gross negligence.

Gross negligence is a higher bar to reach in law, as it involves flagrant failure to implement or follow the accepted standards of care.

The proposed law would be retroactive to March 1, 2020, and any existing lawsuits would have to be amended to meet the threshold of gross negligence.

Gotfried introduced the bill in a rarely used political procedure, given that backbenchers are not technically part of the government and normally can't sponsor government bills.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2021.

The Canadian Press