Alberta Health Services Defines Abuse in Care and Abuse in the Workplace


Within our province, there are certain protocols in place on the rare occasion we experience abuse within care. Alberta has created the Protection for Persons in Care Act, also known as the PPCA. This is a publicly funded service to protect clients from abuse and prevent abuse from occurring. To report abuse via the Protection for Persons in Care, call 1-888-357-9339. This Act requires that all abuse be reported to the Protection for Persons in Care, or directly to the police. For a full copy of the PPCA, you can read via this link.

If you feel abused, or believe your family member is being abused, please report it immediately. This Act is in place to protect clients within or under care. To identify the various types of abuse, the Government of Alberta has listed the various abusive or violent behaviours that can happen in private or even in front of others. Some examples include:

Physical abuse

  • hitting, punching, kicking, biting, scratching or pulling hair

  • throwing or hitting you with things

  • using or threatening to use a weapon

Verbal abuse

  • name-calling and put-downs

  • yelling

  • swearing

Emotional or psychological abuse

  • making fun of you, your family and friends or your beliefs

  • threatening to hurt or kill you, your children, pets, family members or friends

  • threatening suicide or to take the children if you leave

Financial abuse

  • limiting your access to cash, bank accounts, credit cards or other family finances

  • preventing you from working

  • spending your pay cheque without your consent

  • running up debts in your name or selling your possessions without permission

  • destroying your personal property


  • failing to make sure a child or another dependent is safe and has emotional support and basic daily needs met

Control, forced isolation or confinement

  • controlling what you do, where you go, or who you talk to and see

  • limiting, delaying or denying your access to health supports or medical care

  • controlling your access to food, supplies and prenatal supports when you are pregnant

  • forcing you to work beyond your ability

  • keeping you a prisoner in your home

  • abandoning you somewhere

For a full list of violent or abusive tendencies and behaviours, please visit the Government of Alberta website here.

From another perspective, healthcare workers can also experience abuse from other employees, patients and/or family members of the patients. It is important for healthcare workers to work in a safe and healthy environment, so that they can provide the best care possible to clients. As a result, Alberta Health Services has created a Safe Disclosure/Whistleblower Policy and a Workplace Violence: Prevention & Response Policy to assure the safety of employees. You can access these policies here:

Policy 1

Policy 2

According to Alberta Health Services, they define “aggression and violence as incidents where employees, physicians or volunteers are threatened, intimidated or assaulted/abused in their workplace.” However, care providers do recognize that some patients can act out abusively or aggressively when they feel anxious or fearful. Care providers should also understand that most patients do not deliberately intend harm, however, it is still important to protect yourself as a healthcare worker.

To protect yourself as a healthcare provider, there are three ways to report abuse:

  1. Report the abuse directly to your employer or manager.

  2. If your manager or employer is involved, or cannot help you with the abuse you experience as a healthcare provider, you can report it directly to the Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer at Alberta Health Services (also known as the ECO). You can reach them directly:

  3. Or, you can use the External Confidential Reporting and Disclosure Service provided by AHS. This is also referred to as the Safe Disclosure Line. Using this service allows health care workers to anonymously report any abuse directly to the ECO, or in some cases when the ECO is involved, to an alternate AHS governing body. The Safe Disclosure Line can be contacted at 1-800-661-9675.

Every individual should feel safe, healthy and experience the best care possible. It is important to report any abuse to a governing body whether you are a patient, a family member of a patient, or a healthcare provider being abused. Everyone has the right to live or work in a safe and healthy environment. All abuse reports are individually assessed by a complaints officer. He/She will decide whether to follow-up or take further action. If necessary, the complaints officer will issue an investigation where they see fit. Once an investigation is in place, an investigation officer will conduct interviews and investigate the alleged abuse. After an investigation, the reports will be processed and reviewed by the Director. Typically they will decide whether the allegations is founded or unfounded and will outline the necessary actions to prevent further abuse. For more information on the process of reporting abuse, please visit:


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