Legislation is normally the highest level of governing authority and reflects ‘macro-level’ requirements. Legislation often enables or confers certain authority (e.g., to the Minister of Health), enables actions or decisions to be made within a specific scope of authority, and prohibits some actions or participants.

Legislation is intended to be written and updated infrequently, and therefore it must be broad enough and forward-thinking enough to contemplate various future scenarios that can continue to be governed effectively within enduring legislative powers.

Regulations reflect the more detailed, operational layer of accountability: the why what, who, how, why and when of legislation. For example, regulations in continuing care may articulate:

  • Who is, and isn’t, permitted to act in various capacities

  • Minimum levels of staffing or quality assurance

  • Obligation for operators to meet current standards and policies

  • Who pays for what (public funding versus operator versus resident)

  • Who is responsibility for monitoring, and to which standards

  • How to handle complaints, disputes and appeals

  • Ministerial authority to direct or intervene when necessary.

When legislation and regulations are viewed as companion documents that are aligned, there are clear boundaries and expectations regarding who is responsible for what, and how infractions will be addressed.

However, when legislation and regulations are developed on piecemeal basis over years or decades, there can be unclear, overlapping or even contradictory rules about how various circumstances will be handled. Other times, detailed operational requirements are incorrectly housed within legislation — meaning the rules quickly become outdated yet are still enforceable so long as the legislation is still in effect.

Related content

Learn how CHAA is advocating for continuing care regulatory change in Alberta.