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What are Patient Rights?

Patient rights are those basic rules of conduct between patients and medical caregivers. A patient is anyone who has requested to be evaluated by or who is being evaluated by any healthcare professional.

People don’t always know that they have rights within the Canadian healthcare system, let alone what those rights are. Contact us to find out how a Health Advocate can identify your rights in the healthcare system.

Here are some examples of your rights:

Patients in Canada have the right to the following:

  1. To receive appropriate and timely care
  2. To be treated with dignity and respect
  3. To receive health services without discrimination
  4. To have their personal and health information protected from disclosure
  5. To have access to their health information unless, in the opinion of a relevant health professional, the disclosure could result in immediate and grave harm to the patient’s health or safety
  6. To refuse consent to any proposed treatment
  7. To receive information relating to any proposed treatment and options
  8. To the recognition of your Representative or Substitute Decision-maker
  9. To the recognition of your Advance Directive
  10. To a second opinion
  11. To pain and symptom management

Our Health Advocates understand your patient rights and will ensure you maximize them to get the proper care you deserve.

To learn about other ways a Health Advocate can support you, visit our Health Advocacy Services page.

Each province has its own unique documented Patient Rights.


Patient Rights in BC

Serious illness, injury and death can happen to anyone at any time. It is important to plan for this possibility BEFORE the time of crisis.

Advance Care Planning should be done by ALL adults of ALL ages.

Canadian Health Advocates Inc. believes in being informed about your rights before creating your plan.

As per the Health Care Consent Act and Representation Act (See

  • To be fully informed of all treatment options
  • To the recognition of your Representative or Substitute Decision Maker
  • The Recognition of your Advance Directive
  • To a Second Opinion
  • To Pain and Symptom Management
  • To refuse treatment
  • To end your own life
  • To assisted death


Patient Rights in Alberta

A Private Member’s bill – Bill 201, Alberta Patients’ Bill of Rights – was introduced in the Alberta Legislative Assembly on 28 January 1998.  The purpose of the bill was to:

  1. ensure that patients were aware of their right to receive appropriate and timely care;
  2. ensure that patients were treated with dignity and respect; and
  3. promote and improve communication between patients and health care professionals.

The bill provided patients with various rights, including the right to:

  • receive health services without discrimination;
  • have their personal and health information protected from disclosure;
  • have access to their health information unless, in the opinion of a relevant health professional, the disclosure could result in immediate and grave harm to the patient’s health or safety;
  • refuse consent to any proposed treatment; and
  • receive information relating to any proposed treatment and options.

You can find more information here.


Patient Rights in Saskatchewan


Canadians place a high value on our health care system. Over the years people have come to expect certain things from health care providers. Some of these expectations are now law. You, the patient, are entitled to certain basic protection. Health care reform is placing more emphasis on “wellness”. Many patients are taking a more active role in their own health care and are more accountable for their own health care results. Community involvement is also increasing.

Here is a summary of your rights when receiving health care treatment. It applies to a wide variety of situations, including treatment by doctors and nurses, dentists and dental hygienists, physiotherapists and chiropractors.

Consent to Medical Treatment

Before any health care professional may give you any treatment, they must receive your consent to the treatment. Your consent is only valid if it is…

  • given when you are competent and of clear mind
  • informed
  • voluntary

You can show your consent in several ways. You may simply allow health care professionals to treat you. You may ask health care professionals to begin treatment. You may sign a consent form agreeing to treatment. Generally it is only for serious treatments, such as surgery, that health care providers get your consent in writing.

Do I have a right to refuse treatment?

You have the right to refuse any medical treatment if you are mentally competent and mature enough to understand the nature of the treatment. You can also refuse any medical treatment by indicating so in a directive.

Do I have a right to a second opinion?

You have the right to seek a second opinion from another health care professional. Health care decisions are yours to make. You should get enough information so that you are comfortable with the decision you make.

Is the information I give to my health care professional or hospital confidential?

The information you give to your health care provider is confidential. Protecting patients’ privacy is important for a number of reasons. Patients need to be comfortable enough to share critical personal information with their health care provider in order to receive proper care and feel confident that sensitive personal information will not be misused. At the same time, health care providers need to be able to share information as required in order to provide quality services and to monitor and improve our healthcare system.

You can find more information here.


Patient Rights in Manitoba

The Patients’ Rights and Responsibilities is intended as a learning document for both patients and staff in the joint pursuit of mental health treatment.  It is not intended to be legally binding.  It is hoped that this will allow for the promotion of dignity, worth and self-determination of patients in their treatment, while being balanced by the responsibilities of the patient. 

The rights of the patient are at all times affected by the necessities of treatment where such things as competence are a factor.

Canadian Health Advocates Inc., within the parameters of its current resources and legislation aspires to provide all patients with the following rights:

l) The Right to Respect and Dignity

All patients have the right to:

  1. Be treated with respect and be called by the name of their choice.
  2. Express their needs and be treated in accordance with personal values.
  3. Express their individuality and sexuality within socially accepted limits.
  4. Be treated as an equal and an individual.
  5. Keep and display personal property in their room while adhering to safety requirements and respecting the rights of others.
  6. Communicate with people outside the centre through correspondence, telephone and personal visits as well as send and receive personal mail unopened as guided by the Mental Health Act and the Criminal Code Review Board.
  7. Not be subjected to unnecessary restraints.
  8. Die with dignity surrounded by people of their choice.

ll) The Right to Privacy

As can reasonably be maintained by the physical environment; all patients have the right to:

  1. Have proper identification in their bed area if they so wish, and to have privacy within that area.
  2. Have time to themselves if they so desire.
  3. Communicate privately with persons of their choice and not to be interrupted during this communication without valid reason.
  4. Be assured of confidential treatment of personal and medical records.
  5. Be assured that their privacy and confidentiality is protected because no pictures/ videos are permitted on Selkirk Mental Health Centre grounds.  Special permission may be granted upon request to the treatment team.

lll) The Right to Health, Safety and Well-Being

All patients have the right to:

  1. Be protected within their environment.
  2. Receive staff support to achieve independence and to receive staff assistance when necessary.
  3. Live in a safe, clean and healthy environment.
  4. Be free from mental, physical and sexual abuse.
  5. Be properly sheltered, fed, clothed and cared for in a manner consistent with their needs.
  6. Receive medical attention as and when necessary.

lV) The Right to Information and Freedom of Expression

All patients have the right to:

  1. Be informed on all matters, issues, etc. that concern them in the Centre.
  2. Be informed regarding their diagnosis, treatment and medication.
  3. Question treatment, be informed of side effects, be informed of other treatment options available and know the consequences of refusal.
  4. Know Centre staff and what services they provide.
  5. Pursue cultural, religious and other interests to develop their potential, and to be given reasonable provisions to accommodate these pursuits, providing it does not infringe on the rights of others, or the safety of the Centre.
  6. Have feelings and to express those feelings in ways that do not violate the dignity of others.
  7. Be communicated with in their own language as much as resources may reasonably allow.
  8. Be informed of the procedure for initiating complaints.
  9. Be fully informed of all programs, services and educational resources that are available within the Centre and the community.
  10. Examine their clinical records in accordance with relevant legislation.
  1. V) The Right to Have Responsibility and Participate

All patients have the right to:

  1. Make recommendations to Administration with regard to the organization and running of the Centre.
  2. Exercise their right to vote and to have physical accessibility to polling stations during Federal, Provincial and Municipal elections.
  3. Participate in activities of daily living and recreation at a pace that is comfortable and in a manner that is acceptable to the consumer while respecting the rights of others in a socially-acceptable manner.
  4. Make choices in their day to day activities.
  5. Manage their own financial affairs to the full extent of their ability.

Should some aspect of the patient’s treatment seem unsatisfactory, it is recommended that the patient discuss it with his/her treating physician or any other member of his/her treatment team

You can find more information here.


Patient Rights in Ontario

As a patient or health care consumer in Ontario, you have both rights and responsibilities. If a health care professional violates your rights, you can make a complaint.

Your rights are protected by laws such as the Health Care Consent Act, the Long-Term Care Act and the Mental Health Act.

Your Rights

In general, as a patient, you have a right to:

  • Receive safe and proper care.
  • Give or refuse consent for any procedure, and for any reason.
  • Have a medical professional clearly explain health problems and treatments to you.
  • Participate in health care decisions.
  • Ask questions and express concerns.
  • Request a second opinion; within reason.
  • Be assured that personal information is confidential.
  • Request to access your health information records.
  • Request the transfer of your health records to another medical professional; you may be charged a fee.

You can find more information here.


Patient Rights in Quebec

Quebec’s Act regarding health services and social services (Loi sur les services de santé et les services sociaux) sets out entitlements with respect to health and social services.  Included among these are entitlements to:

  • be informed of the existence of the health and social services resources available in the community and the conditions governing access to the services;
  • receive health services in a continuous and personalized manner and which are scientifically, humanely and socially appropriate;
  • choose the professional from whom or the institution from which health services are to be received;
  • receive the care required when life or bodily integrity is endangered;
  • be informed of the state of one’s health and options for care prior to giving consent to care; and
  • participate in decisions affecting one’s care.

It should be noted, however, that the Act limits the application of health and social services entitlements by tying them to structural and economic constraints.  The entitlement to health services and to choose one’s health care professional and institution must be exercised within the framework of the legislative and regulatory provisions relating to the organizational and operational structure of the institution and within the human, material and financial resources available to the institution.

The Act also created a three-tier regime for dealing with complaints against health care facilities and providers. Complaints were to be made first to the relevant institution, then to the appropriate regional board and finally to the government-appointed Complaints Commissioner who examined complaints from persons who were dissatisfied with decisions made by regional boards.

Bill 27, an Act respecting the Health and Social Services Ombudsman and amending various legislative provisions – which was introduced in May 2001 – replaces the Complaints Commissioner with a Health and Social Services Ombudsman (Health Services Ombudsman). The Act streamlines the complaints procedure by creating a two-tier regime.  In the first instance, local service quality commissioners and regional service quality commissioners examine complaints in relation to services and activities coming under their respective authorities.  At the second tier, the Health Services Ombudsman hears appeals from complainants who are dissatisfied with decisions at the quality commissioner level.

The Act also gives the Health Services Ombudsman the power to intervene in circumstances where there are reasonable grounds to believe that a person or group of persons has been or may likely be adversely affected by an act or omission of an institution or a regional board.

You can find more information here.


Patient Rights in New Brunswick

In its January 2002 report, the New Brunswick Premier’s Health Quality Council outlined a New Brunswick Health Charter of Rights and Responsibilities, the purpose of which is to set out what New Brunswick residents can expect from the healthcare system and health care professionals.  The Charter, which sets out a number of specific rights and responsibilities at three levels – the individual, the health professional, and the health care system addresses five broad classes of rights:

  1. access to health services;
  2. the making of one’s own decisions;
  3. good communication and information;
  4. personal consideration and respect; and
  5. the addressing of issues and complaints.

The rights encompassed under “access to health services” include the right to:

  • receive publicly funded health services on the basis of need, rather than ability to pay, lifestyle or any other factor;
  • have access to primary care in one’s local area;
  • receive health services from a family physician or collaborative practice team;
  • have equitable access to health services;
  • obtain a second opinion;
  • have continuity of care;
  • receive health services that respond to individual needs and preferences;
  • receive services in the official language of choice; and
  • ensure wheelchair accessibility.

Responsibilities outlined under access to services include both individual and health system responsibilities.  The former include the responsibility to:

  • learn how to access health services;
  • use services appropriately and wisely; and
  • live a healthy lifestyle.

The corresponding health system responsibilities include the responsibility to:

  • respond to patients’ needs in a timely manner based on established standards;
  • provide information about treatment and services;
  • provide a seamless continuum of care;
  • deliver services effectively and efficiently without compromising quality;
  • spend public funds prudently and wisely;
  • provide a clear policy about health care professionals reporting concerns about risks for patients;
  • provide a safe working environment;
  • respect health care personnel; and
  • ensure wheelchair accessibility.

The rights under “the making of one’s own decisions” deal with issues such as being informed, refusing treatment, choosing treatment, participating in research, and receiving information about the qualifications and experience of health professionals.  The health system’s responsibilities under this category centre on providing information about treatments and procedures and their implications as well as respecting health care decisions.

“Good communications and information” covers rights to an explanation of proposed treatments and risks, access to health records, information about new treatment advances, and information on health services.  Patients have a corresponding responsibility to ask questions, follow instructions, understand their treatment plan, and request information.

Rights under “personal consideration and respect” focus on providing a clean and safe care environment, being treated with dignity and respect, and protecting privacy.  The Charter also stresses that patients have a responsibility to collaborate with health care personnel and to be courteous and respectful.

Finally, the proposed Charter outlines rights to complain along with a corresponding responsibility on the health system to provide mechanisms to address complaints.

The Premier’s Health Quality Council did not address whether the Charter should be entrenched in legislation, noting, however, that it was up to the government to decide whether the Charter should be legislated or made part of public policy.  

In order to facilitate the rights outlined in the proposed Charter, the Council recommended the creation of an advocate system composed of Health System Advocates to facilitate access and communications.  Regional Advocates would be created in each regional health authority along with one Provincial Advocate who would deal with province-wide policy and communications issues.   The Health System Advocate system would also address patients’ concerns and complaints of a defined scope.

You can find more information here.


Patient Rights in Nova Scotia

In Nova Scotia, the provincial government originally tasked the Provincial Health Council with developing a Patient’s Bill of Rights.  However, the Council produced a set of “Expectations for Health and Health Care in Nova Scotia” after concluding that a legislated patients’ rights document “would pose innumerable legal problems that might take decades to resolve through the courts.”

The expectations fall into three broad categories:

  1. the attainment and maintenance of health for persons, families and communities;
  2. the development of health care and related services;
  3. and the provision of health care and related services. 

The latter two categories contain 10 expectations related to the development of the health care system and 21 expectations pertinent to the provision of health care.

The Expectations relating to the development of health care deal largely with what Nova Scotia residents should reasonably expect at the policy and system level.  

These include:

  • a health care system that reflects their values;
  • the development and delivery of service that reflects a commitment to the health, general well-being and dignity of all residents;
  • access to healthcare and related services and supports, including: primary care, acute care, long-term care and home care as well as emergency, palliative, rehabilitative and preventive services;
  • the development and delivery of service guided by the best available qualitative, quantitative and experiential evidence;
  • support for individual and community efforts to enhance the health and well-being of residents;
  • eradication of intersectoral and other barriers to ensure better health and health care;
  • equitable allocation of resources;
  • adequate funding for, and wise management of, services that have an impact on health;
  • continued Government commitment to the spirit of the Canada Health Act and Nova Scotia’s Health Goals (1992); and
  • widespread public input into major proposed changes to the health care system.

The Expectations for the provision of health care services, on the other hand, outline what individual residents should reasonably expect in relation to their personal health care. 

These include:

  • providing services that respect values, culture, language, religion, ethnicity and individual ability;
  • being treated with respect, dignity and consideration;
  • paying attention to the individual’s views, preferences, observations and problems regarding all aspects of care;
  • providing care in a manner that is free from abuse, neglect and prejudice;
  • providing care based primarily on individual need;
  • receiving safe, competent and ethical care by qualified providers;
  • knowing the names, qualifications and professional roles of the health care providers;
  • providing health care and related services with reasonable accommodation for the geographic distribution of the population;
  • being cared for in a clean, safe and healthy environment;
  • receiving understandable information about one’s health care;
  • participating fully in all decisions related to one’s health care, either directly or where circumstances dictate, through the use of an appropriate proxy or Advance Directive;
  • participating in arrangements for discharge;
  • honouring requests for the withdrawal of treatment or the refusal of care except where otherwise prescribed by law;
  • honouring refusals to participate in research or educational activities;
  • being informed of the relevant risks, benefits and reasonably foreseeable consequences of any proposed intervention together with the risks and potential consequences of refusing care;
  • being adequately informed of the rules, regulations, policies and limits associated with the provision of healthcare and related services;
  • receiving a full explanation, in advance, for any charges for services not covered by the provincial health care plan;
  • being assured of privacy;
  • observing confidentiality unless disclosure is authorized by law;
  • receiving an explanation of the requirements for disclosure of confidential information; and
  • having reasonable and timely access to and copies of personal health care records as well as the right to request changes to the records.

You can find more information here.


Patient Rights in Prince Edward Island

As a patient, we encourage you to be a partner in your health care. As a member of that team, it is important that you understand your rights and responsibilities. 

Talk openly with your health care provider about your health care. Ask questions, listen to the answers and talk about any concerns you may have. By being involved in your care, health care providers are able to provide you with the best and safest care possible.   

Your rights and responsibilities:

Dignity and respect: You have the right to:

  • be treated with dignity and respect.

Decision-making: You have the right to:

  • make your own health care decisions;
  • have someone assist you in making your health care decisions;
  • legally appoint someone (Proxy) to make healthcare decisions on your behalf; and
  • consent to or refuse treatment at any time.

Quality care: You have the right to:

  • receive safe, quality health care; and
  • be informed of unintended, unexpected and preventable events that result in harm during your care.

Your health care: You have the right to:

  • know the benefits and be informed of the risks associated with any medicine, treatment or decision related to your health care;
  • a second opinion;
  • refuse participation in any teaching or research program; and
  • be included in all aspects of your health care.

Information: You have the right to:

  • ask questions and receive information about your health care in a way you can understand;
  • know the names, titles and roles of your health care providers;
  • share your views, observations and concerns about your health care with your health care provider(s); 
  • access or receive copies of your health record**; and
  • access Health PEI’s Compliments and Complaints process to provide feedback and express concerns about the health care services you received.
  • l you have all the information you need to make informed health care decisions.

Privacy: You have the right to:

  • have your health information kept confidential. As part of your care plan, your health information may be shared with other health care providers as required or with others; however, this will be done only with your consent or as required by law; and
  • as much privacy as best can be provided.

You can find more information here.


Patient Rights in the Yukon

As a patient, you have the right to:

  • be treated with respect, consideration, dignity and compassion
  • know the name and role of those involved in your care
  • receive clear and complete information about your diagnosis, treatment and prognosis in terms you can understand
  • a care plan in the hospital and upon discharge that takes into consideration your preferences, beliefs, customs, traditions, your family and/or caregiver
  • participate in all decisions about your treatment plan while in the hospital
  • have your pain and comfort managed to the safest extent possible
  • appoint a family member or friend to act as your spokesperson while you are in the hospital.
  • know the name of any medication prescribed to you, its normal actions and potential side effects given your condition
  • accept or refuse any treatment or medication and to be informed of the likely consequences of doing so
  • be cared for in an environment that promotes confidentiality of your personal information
  • be provided with supportive care to ensure death with dignity
  • language translation services when necessary
  • raise any concerns or complaints regarding care or safety

As a patient, you have the responsibility to:

  • provide accurate information to the staff caring for you including information about past illnesses, current health conditions, any allergic or negative reactions to any medicine, product or food and any health services you have received
  • bring in all medications and provide an accurate list of all current medications, vitamins and supplements
  • participate in all decisions about your treatment plan while in the hospital and upon discharge
  • be respectful, cooperative and considerate with all staff and volunteers
  • follow the instructions and advice from the staff caring for you about the services and behaviour that relate to your health and advise them when you choose not to
  • seek information or clarification if you have questions
  • provide a copy of your Advance Directive, Living Will and/or other relevant documents to the staff caring for you
  • treat other patients with respect and consideration
  • conduct yourself in a manner consistent with maintaining the safety of yourself, other patients, staff and visitors
  • be patient if you encounter delays and understand that sometimes other patients’ needs may be more urgent than yours
  • raise any concerns or complaints regarding care or safety

You can find more information here.