The Representation Agreement Act
The history of Nidus is inseparable from the history of the Representation Agreement Act and the reform of British Columbia’s adult guardianship legislation. The practice is evolving.
The reform of adult guardianship in British Columbia is unique – both in terms of the process and the outcome.
The Representation Agreement Act of BC was selected as one of the eight best policies in the world by experts on a scientific advisory panel of the World Future Council. The Nidus Resource Centre is recognized as the driving force behind the legislation and gave a presentation at an international conference in Vienna, January 22 and 23, 2012, attended by 240 stakeholders from 35 countries.
The law reform was initiated by citizens and community groups and they have provided leadership through all phases including implementation and practice. Government often consults citizens and the community. However in this case, the community was a partner in the legislative drafting process. This proved a challenge for the community and for the traditional stakeholders. The community feels ownership of the legislation and its intent whereas policy makers are used to interpreting the law and managing its implementation with limited consultation. This tension is obvious at various stages of the process.
This history is rich, the lessons are informative, and the legacy is an achievement that we can all be proud of. With the Representation Agreement Act, British Columbia put into law, a different way to view capability than the traditional one. The new vision takes the individual into account and makes the need for support the priority not assessing mental incompetency. Representation Agreements are a legal model for supported decision making.
Nidus has taken this innovative legislation from a theoretical model and put it into practice. Nidus was established by citizens and community groups involved in the law reform to ensure the public had access to information and assistance with Representation Agreements.
Nidus serves as a living lab for other provinces and jurisdictions that want to reform their legislation and practice. Nidus is a repository for the history and for people’s experiences in the present.
3 Phases of Law Reform
Project to Review Adult Guardianship
Envisioning and developing a new legal framework.
Through collaboration of the BC Association for Community Living and the Alzheimer Society of BC, and with funding from the Law Foundation, PRAG set up offices at the Community Legal Assistance Society.
Discussions about the problems with the existing legislation and ideas for a new framework resulted in a set of key principles. These principles and a new legal framework were outlined in a document called How Can We Help. The community and government each signed off on the document and the principles guided the development of the new legislation.
A Joint Working Committee of community and government drafted legislation. Four Acts were passed unanimously in the legislature in 1993: The Representation Agreement Act, the Health Care Consent and Care Facility Admission Act, the Adult Guardianship Act and the Public Guardian and Trustee Act.
After being passed, laws are subject to implementation. This can happen overnight or take much longer. During this period, policies, procedures and other details needed to make the law work are put in place.
“Of all the opportunities I had as Attorney General, bringing in guardianship legislation was among the most exciting. It was truly significant and important for so many people now and on into the future. It was a great achievement. I was very proud and fortunate to have been a part of a wonderful group of people who make it happen.”
Community Coalition for the Implementation of Adult Guardianship Legislation
Developing regulations, policies, and procedures to enable practice of the new legislation.
In 1993, the Community Coalition for the Implementation of Adult Guardianship Reform was formed and its Representation Agreement Task Group (RATG) became the policy and planning group for the Representation Agreement Act. purpose was to ensure that Representation Agreements would be accessible and would work for those most affected and vulnerable to adult guardianship.
The Representation Agreement Task Group conducted ground-up research to gather input from citizens for implementation of the Representation Agreement Act. Volunteers held 35 workshops 1993 to 1994.
An independent researcher analyzed the data and produced a report, which was presented at a provincial conference organized by the Community Coalition. Conference participants approved the report and directed the RATG to establish a Legislative Sub-committee to make recommendations to government for amendments, regulations, and policy.
The Legislative Sub-committee Report was presented to the Deputy Attorney General in July 1995. It sat on the shelf until 1999 when the community negotiated with government for proclamation.
Representation Agreement Resource Centre / Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre
Using the legislation according to its intent and principles.
The RARC, established in 1995 by citizens and community groups involved in the law reform, hired an Executive Director and set up its office in 2000 to coincide with proclamation of the Representation Agreement Act. RARC produced publications, conducted presentations, and assisted people to make Representation Agreements with standard powers.
In 2002, RARC launched the first community-based Registry for personal planning documents – called the Nidus eRegistry.
RARC also provided input on behalf of citizens and community groups to government reviews and consultations on the legislation held since 2000.
In 2006, RARC submitted recommendations for amendments to resolve outstanding issues and end the uncertainty created by government reviews. Some amendments stem from the July 1995 Legislative Sub-Committee Report of the RATG. This new proposal became the basis for the Adult Guardianship and Planning Statutes Amendment Act, which was passed in 2007.
In 2008, RARC changed its name to the Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre to reflect the broader legislative framework and our practice (no longer one law – the Representation Agreement Act – for personal planning).
Nidus brought community groups together to discuss the draft regulations (related to Adult Guardianship and Planning Statutes Amendment Act, 2007) posted by the Ministry of Attorney General with submissions due December 2008.
A Brief History of British Columbia’s Community-Based Law Reform Effort to Enshrine Supported Decision Making in Legislation
Project to Review Adult Guardianship Begins
A community-based, consensus approach to law reform is sought by a group of grassroots, community activists.
CREATING A VISION AND NEW DIRECTION FOR SOCIAL POLICY
BC Association for Community Living and Alzheimer Society of BC obtain 3-year funding from Law Foundation for law reform initiative.
A broad range of individuals and groups throughout the province participate in discussions. There were seven working groups:
1. Personal Supports
2. Future Planning
3. Capacity and Needs
4. Assistance and Advocacy
5. Abuse, Neglect & Self-Neglect
6. Consent to Health Care
7. Court Processes
There was also an Issues & Strategies Task Group and Education & Research Task Group. 1991, PRAG produced a framework document. PRAG members joined with Interministry Committee on Issues Affecting Dependent Adults to create a Joint Working Committee.
A joint government and community working committee produce the report “How Can We Help” containing principles and an outline to guide the drafting of legislation.
The Community Coalition for the Implementation of Adult Guardianship Legislation is Founded
The Representation Agreement Task Group, and Advocacy Task Group, support individuals to participate at Public Trustee policy/planning tables for Abuse and Neglect and for Health Care Consent and Care Facility Admission.
Last-minute negotiation before legislation is introduced, to ensure RA Act includes legal recognition for supported decision making.
Reform package unanimously passed by the legislature. Attorney General says community partnership in law reform was critical and must continue during implementation. Joint community-government forum held on implementation issues. Did not translate into action.
RATG conducts participatory action research to ensure input from those most affected is represented at the implementation policy table. RATG hosts a provincial conference to discuss and analyze research findings. Outcome calls for the formation of a Legislative Sub-Committee to use findings as to the basis of recommendations to the government for implementation. Community Coalition lobbies with consumers for removal of the Mental Health Act override from RA Act and health care consent legislation.
The Representation Agreement Resource Centre (RARC) is incorporated as a non-profit.
RATG Legislative Sub-committee presents a report to Deputy Attorney General on recommendations for amendments, regulation, and policy based on ground-up research. Community Coalition submits a Summary of the Regulatory and Policy Issues essential to promote alternatives to public guardianship. Government cabinet shuffle results in a new AG that has no history with reform. Deputy AG (1993-2000) puts community submissions ‘on the shelf.’
LOBBYING FOR PROCLAMATION
RARC launches Guidebook for Making Representation Agreements.
Community publishes document “Promoting Alternatives to Public Guardianship: Where do we stand?” which includes an “Action Plan for the proclamation of Representation Agreements” to enlist the help of citizens and groups to lobby AG and MLAs.
Community Coalition organizes a postcard campaign (Fall 1996) to ask Premier’s help to proclaim legislation.
The government’s response is to hold a legislative review. The results are never made public. The Community Coalition meets with reviewers and publishes a Position Paper of its recommendations.
Community Coalition continues to push for proclamation.
The Community Coalition approaches the BC Coalition to eliminate the abuse of seniors to support the proclamation of RA Act Section 7 & 8 as the best tool to balance self-determination and safety. Ministry of Attorney General agrees to support proclamation.
Selective proclamation of the reform package, February 28, 2000:
- RA Act
- Health Care Consent
- Response to Abuse Neglect
- Public Guardian & Trustee Act
Did not proclaim reforms to guardianship system, care facility admission, or registry. Kept EPA under POA Act for the transition period. Legislative review on the prescribed class of consultants for RA Act Section 9 additional powers.
DEFENDING THE RA ACT WHILE TRYING TO PROMOTE REPRESENTATION AGREEMENTS
Recommended amendments from consultation including community are passed to clarify and streamline legislation.
Legislative review to consider if one planning tool for everything under RA Act or keep EPA under POA Act.
Nidus eRegistry developed in 2002 in partnership with Juricert Inc., Law Society of B.C. and Gateway File Systems
The government announces that it will keep the EPA under the POA Act and will keep routine finances and legal services under Section 7 & 8 of the RA Act.
Repeal of reforms in PGT Act: No community-based advisory board or mandated evaluation. No public consultation.
Repeal of reforms to health care consent legislation (03/04) No Review Board (for appealing the finding of incapability or health care provider selection of substitute decision-maker); no prescribed advocacy to ensure rights and support for adults at risk; loss of other reforms in support of adults’ rights to assistance but perceived as difficult for the system to uphold.
Legislative review – AG announces a proposal to eliminate the RA Act. The community is told on March 10. The community mounts a campaign to save the RA Act. May 13, Attorney General announces in legislature government will not make changes.
RARC Board holds meeting with founding groups to ask if they want supported decision-making legislation as it is not being promoted or used by the community and this is affectingRARC’s capacity and sustainability – ‘use it or lose it.’
The government announces a legislative review on December 22.
Bill 32 (regarding Advance Directives) is introduced in the legislature on April 27.
The community campaigns against advance directives.
The bill does not proceed. The government holds a consultation on advance directives.
RARC submits proposal Charting the Court Ahead to the Deputy AG as a win-win for settling the legislative framework.
INITIATING COMPROMISE TO CREATE CERTAINTY FOR THE RA ACT
Bill 29 is introduced and passed, based on the community’s proposal.
Bill 29 includes amendments to streamline the RA Act and make EPAs more like RAs. It introduces advance directives as a legal tool for substitute consent.
RARC changes its name to Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre and Registry.
The ministry of AG calls a meeting with stakeholders and discusses the process for implementation to involve stakeholders working together to draft standard forms for RAs, EPAs, Ads.
Working groups never convene.
Ministry staff posted their proposed Regulations on the website for comment.
LOBBYING TO SEVER
Implementation stalled by the economic downturn: adult guardianship amendments are too costly. The community lobbies to sever personal planning amendments from the adult guardianship amendments. Bill 13 passes with an amendment to allow severing and enable proclamation of personal planning amendments separate from those related to adult guardianship.
LOBBYING FOR PROCLAMATION
Nidus’ recently published research and 10 years of practice provide an opportunity for input to implementation from those most affected – no movement on proclaiming amendments. The BC RA Act is recognized by a scientific panel of the World Futures Council as one of the best policies in the world for people with disabilities – and Nidus is credited with being the driving force behind the legislation.
PROCLAMATION OF AMENDMENTS
Nidus President presents at an international conference in Vienna on BC RA Act. Community groups write Liberal candidates running for leadership of the party following the resignation of Gordon Campbell. The new premier, Christy Clark, announces on Feb. 4 that the personal planning amendments come into effect on September 1st.
Ministry of Health program – Choices In Supports for Independent Living (CSIL) incorporate RAs in the policy.
Nidus selects software development company – Gravit-e Technologies to develop a new online system for the Registry. Nidus revises and creates new resources. After viewing the government forms on September 1/2011 the basic RA7 and RA9 forms are uploaded to the Nidus website. On Sept. 1st – Nidus launches the online celebration of certainty for RAs with a special website at
http://niduspersonalplanning.tumblr.com/ (no longer active).
Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre and Registry
Nidus provides education and assistance and is a clearinghouse for people’s experiences. Volunteers are also trained to assist the public.
CENTRE FOR EXCELLENCE ON PERSONAL PLANNING & SUPPORTED DECISION MAKING – PROMOTING BEST PRACTICES
Nidus working on a rebuild of the Personal Planning Registry. Nidus must move by March 31st. Nidus relocates to a one-room space in Holy Trinity Church at Hemlock & 12th Avenue in Vancouver. Nidus receives a 3-year grant from the United Way of the Lower Mainland. CLBC contract, Notary Foundation Ministry of Health publishes My Voice: Guide to Advance Care Planning. It includes info on RAs and government forms.
Nidus moves office.
Changes to the Adult Guardianship Act announced – based on Ombudsperson’s Report about statutory guardianship. An organized workshop is held at the Inclusion BC Conference in Vancouver for visitors from the Czech Republic. CLBC contract July 2013 to Mar. 31/2014. Notary Foundation provides a small project grant for fact sheets and material in Chinese.
A new online system for the registry is launched in 2014.
Nidus is the recipient of the Scotiabank-UWLM Community Spirit Award (for seniors). CTV makes a video.
Nidus re-launches the Personal Planning Registry online. Launch event & demo for professionals is held on June 12th. A small grant is received from the Law Foundation. Nidus promotes September as Personal Planning Month in partnership with the BC Courthouse Libraries Society. The kick-off event and public launch of the Registry is held at VPL on September 15.
Nidus is a Latin term for nest: a symbol of safety, support and self-development.
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