Alberta Health Services is creating an advisory panel that will focus on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and the experience of LGBTQ individuals in the health-care system.
The panel will “provide a direct connection between the health system and Alberta’s sexual and gender diverse patients, their families and care providers,” AHS said in a news release Thursday.
The group, called the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Provincial Advisory Council, will be launched early next year.
Part of its mandate will be to address health needs specific to sexual and gender minorities and help make the health-care environment safer and more welcoming.
“It is vital that all Albertans feel comfortable accessing health services in safe, inclusive and highly supportive environments,” Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said.
“I look forward to working with the advisory council to better meet the health-care needs of gender and sexual diverse communities.”
SOGIE will include people from across the province who have lived experience within the health-care system “and understand the needs and barriers faced by sexual and gender minorities,” AHS said.
Addressing stigma within the health-care system, educating and supporting AHS employees, and suggesting programs, services and strategies will all be part of the panel’s job.
“All people need to feel safe, welcomed and understood when they come to AHS for support,” AHS President and CEO Dr. Verna Yiu said.
Between May and October, AHS representatives met in person with more than 60 members of the LGBTQ communities and gathered feedback from more than 200 people through an online survey.
“We’ve heard through our consultations that members of the LGBTQ2S+ communities often feel like their voices aren’t heard and their experiences not understood,” said AHS community engagement committee chair Dr. Brenda Hemmelgarn.
“This new council will ensure that their voices will be heard, and their thoughts and ideas will help make sure AHS is both responsive and respectful of their health-care needs.”
AHS currently has three provincial advisory councils. They focus on cancer care, addictions and mental health, and continuing care/seniors care.
Watch: It’s the first of its kind in Calgary — a unique conference aimed at professionals and the public is intended to better understand the LGBTQ community. Jill Croteau reports. (Nov. 16, 2018)