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healthcare basics for albertans​​

Healthcare Basics for Albertans



Here you’ll learn about the 7 types of partners that are involved in Alberta healthcare. In this section you’ll find answers to questions like:

  • How is the Government of Alberta involved?
  • Who makes the rules and decisions?
  • Who does what?

The most important partner in healthcare is YOU. After all, healthcare is all about the people who ​need it. Without people, there wouldn’t be a need for healthcare.

So where do you fit in? You are the centre of care for the healthcare system. Whether you’re being healthy, getting better, living with an illness or disease, or at the end of life, you’ll use the health system in some way. So it’s important that you know:

  • you can advocate for yourself and your loved ones
  • your rights as a partner in healthcare

Healthcare partners work together to meet the healthcare needs of people in Alberta.

​​ ​​​​​

Select a partner below to learn more.


You and Your Family

You are the most important healthcare partner. No one can understand what your healthcare needs are without you. Your questions, how you describe what’s wrong, and what you tell healthcare providers is what’s most important. This is how you and your healthcare partners work together to decide the type of care you need and how best to help you.

Your family is also an important part of your health. They are the ones to support you. Family includes, but isn’t limited to, your family members, guardians, friends and informal caregivers.

Go back to learn about other partners.


Government Partners




writing policy


ensuring quality


delivering healthcare services

Government partners provide money for healthcare (called funding), write healthcare policies and set standards for healthcare. Alberta Health is the department of the Government of Alberta that is responsible for the healthcare system in Alberta.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) delivers healthcare services to Albertans on behalf of the Government of Alberta. AHS is the biggest healthcare provider in the province and in all of Canada. It works with other healthcare partners, like Covenant Health, to make sure Albertans get the care they need. This means that when you need surgery, visit an emergency department, or need treatment for cancer, you’re likely being cared for by AHS or Covenant Health staff. AHS teams and departments also work with volunteer Health Advisory Councils on projects, procedures and documents. These AHS advisory councils are made up of people who have a relationship with others in their communities.

Covenant Health is a Catholic organization that also provides a wide range of health services to Albertans.

The Health Quality Council of Alberta monitors how well the healthcare system is working. It also works with our government, healthcare providers, and other partners to make healthcare in Alberta better and safer.

Alberta Health Advocates provides information about the Alberta Health Charter and patients’ rights. The Alberta Health Charter outlines the principles of our health system and what Albertans expect from healthcare. Alberta Health Advocates help connect people to the right kinds of health services, programs and resources. Advocates also listen to your concerns and complaints about healthcare and can help you find someone to solve them.

All of these partners work together to help provide safer, quality healthcare to Albertans. Only those care providers who are directly involved in your care will have access to your information. The privacy of your personal health information is important and not all care providers share information with each other. That’s why it’s important for you to make sure your healthcare provider has the information they need to know about your health.

Go back to learn about other partners.


​​​​​Publicly Funded Partners


​funding from tax dollars


​medical clinics

Some publicly funded partners care for you and your family, but aren’t part of Alberta Health Services. Most family doctors, medical clinics and centres that care for seniors are examples of publicly funded partners that aren’t connected to the government.

Services that are publicly funded are those you don’t pay for yourself. If you are asked to show your Alberta Personal Health Card, your healthcare is usually publicly funded. This means that the Government of Alberta pays for the care using your tax dollars. You’ll be asked to pay for services that aren’t covered by your tax dollars. To find out what services are paid for and which ones aren’t, go to the Alberta Health website.​​​​​​​​​​

Go back to learn about other partners.



​​​​​Privately Funded Partners


​private health insurance

Privately funded partners care for you and your family but aren’t connected to the government or Alberta Health Services. They provide health services that aren’t paid for by your Alberta Personal Health Card.

These partners provide services that include: dental care, prescriptions, nutrition consults, physical fitness, and spiritual well-being.

If you have private health insurance it may cover the cost of some of these services. You may have private insurance through a workplace plan or through one you buy yourself. Privately funded partners sometimes bill the cost of the service directly to your private insurance or you may have to pay upfront and the insurance will send you money at a later date (called reimbursement).

When you don’t have private health insurance, you have to cover the cost of the service.​​​

Go back to learn about other partners.


​​​​​Education and Research Partners


​training future professionals



Education Partners play a huge role in Alberta’s health system. They teach and train our future healthcare professionals to begin working in healthcare. They also provide learning opportunities for current health professionals to keep learning.

Education partners do research that makes healthcare better and leads to medical breakthroughs. For example, the University of Alberta is an education partner that developed the Edmonton Protocol which has changed the lives of hundreds of people with diabetes. The Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) is an education partner that improves patient care through research.

Go back to learn about other partners.



​​​​​Non-Profit Partners


​raising money

Non-profit partners play an important role in your healthcare. They help to fill gaps that aren’t covered by the other healthcare partners or your taxes. Non-profit partners include hospital trusts and foundations that raise money for research, buildings and equipment. There are several thousand non-profit partners in Alberta and Canada who provide services or fundraise for research for people with certain diseases or healthcare needs in many communities across Alberta. Examples of these organizations include the Alberta Alzheimer’s Society, Alberta Cancer Foundation, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada and Canadian Mental Health Association.

Go back to learn about other partners.


​​​​​Professional Partners


practice permits & licenses


professional regulations

Professional partners are colleges and associations that regulate and provide practice permits and licenses for healthcare professionals in Alberta, such as doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists and pharmacists. Professional partners require healthcare professionals to take education courses to stay up-to-date in the area they work.

Professionals who belong to these colleges and associations pay membership fees to have a practice permit or license to provide healthcare. Healthcare employers, like Alberta Health Services, require their healthcare staff to have a current license or practice permit.

Professional partners are also a community for professionals with similar areas of interest or expertise. They provide leadership for setting standards of practice.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Go back to learn about other partners.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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