The following information relates to Alberta only. For links to information on similar laws in other jurisdictions please see our page of Additional Resources.
What is Co-Decision Making?
Who would a Co-Decision Making arrangement benefit?
How can I enter into a Co-Decision Making arrangement?
What is a "Capacity Assessment Form" and what is involved in completing one?
What does the Court consider when deciding whether to grant a Co-Decision Making Order?
What are the Responsibilities of a Co-Decision Maker?
What is the Co-Decision Maker isn't doing their job properly?
How does a Co-Decision Making Order end?
Where can I get more information?
What exactly is Co-Decision-Making?
If an adult’s ability to make personal decisions is significantly impaired but s/he can still make personal decisions with support, a Co-Decision-Making Order may be an option. The adult who is the subject of one of these orders is called the “Assisted Adult”. The person who is assisting is known as the “Co-Decision-Maker.”
A Co-Decision-Making Order is a more formal arrangement wherein the adult and their co-decision-maker make decisions together. A Co-Decision-Maker can assist the adult in communicating or carrying out decisions, when necessary or appropriate. For example, when making a health care decision, both the Assisted Adult and the Co-Decision-Maker would sign the consent form. All decisions made must be in the best interests of the Assisted Adult.
Co-Decision-Making Orders are voluntary, the Court cannot grant such an order unless both the proposed Assisted Adult and the proposed Co-Decision-Maker agree.
For whom would Co-Decision-Making be a good option?
A Co-Decision-Making Order could be very helpful for adults who:
- cannot make personal decisions on their own but could make personal decisions with the guidance and support of another person; and
- have a close relationship with someone willing to provide decision-making support; and
- do not have a Guardian or a Personal Directive that is in effect.
A Co-Decision-Making Order is also available for adult who was under a Guardianship Order, but whose capacity has improved (but the Guardianship Order must first be terminated. It is not possible to have a Co-Decision-Making Order for some matters and a Guardianship Order for others.
How can I enter into a Co-Decision-Making arrangement?
The decision to grant a Co-Decision-Making Order is made by the Court. As a result, the process is more involved than the process for a Support-Decision-Making Authorization. However, this does not mean that a court appearance will necessarily be required. Often, the process can be complete by what is known as a “desk” application.
A “desk-application” is a streamlined process for obtaining court order, without having to appear in court. With respect to Co-Decision-Making, Guardianship and Trusteeship, this means that in straightforward cases where there is nothing to be argued, the Order can be obtained simply by sending in the appropriate paperwork to a Review Officer at the Office of the Public Guardian. The Review Officer then completes a separate report and sends the package to the Court for approval. If the Court is satisfied with the paperwork, the Court can then give the requested Order. If, however, the Court or other interested party requests a court hearing, such a hearing can still occur (at which point the application is no longer a “desk” process
The Co-Decision-Making Order application package includes a number of forms, including a Capacity Assessment Form. The application package is available through the Office of the Public Guardian (see contact information on the resources page).
What is a “Capacity Assessment Form” and what is involved in completing one?
In order to obtain a Co-Decision-Making Order, the proposed Assisted Adult must take part in a capacity assessment and be found to be “significantly impaired.”
This assessment process is conducted in a standardized manner. It includes a cognitive and functional assessment, and it target the kinds of decisions the adult needs to make and the level of assistance required.
The capacity assessment process must be completed by a doctor, psychologist or other health care professional specifically trained to be a Capacity Assessor (for this is there is a specific training process). The Office of the Public Guardian can provide a list of qualified and trained capacity assessors.
What does the court consider when deciding whether to grant the Co-Decision-Making Order?
For the Court to grant a Co-Decision-Making Order, the Court must find that the adult’s capacity is “significantly impaired”, but that the Adult could make a decision with “guidance and support.” The Court must then determine that less intrusive means are not adequate and that it is in the best interests of the Assisted Adult to have a Co-Decision-Maker.
In deciding whether it is in the Assisted Adult’s best interests to have a Co-Decision-Making order, the Court must consider:
- the Capacity Assessment Report;
- the Review Officer’s report;
- the views of the adult;
- the assisted adult’s Personal Directive (if there is one);
- the assisted adult’s Supported-Decision-Making Authorization (if there is one);
- whether the personal matters about which the adult is significantly impaired are likely to expose the assisted adult to harm; and
- whether the benefits of a Co-Decision-Making Order outweigh the risks, if any, to the adult of having a Co-Decision Maker.
The Court must also consider whether any reviews will be required. This is because there is no required review period in the AGTA. The court decides if a review is required. If yes, the court must specifically include the review provisions in the order itself. This consideration is especially important if the Capacity Assessment Report indicated that the adult’s capacity is likely to improve.
The Court cannot order a Co-Decision-Making order for a personal matter for which a Personal Directive is in effect.
What are the responsibilities of a Co-Decision-Maker?
A Co-Decision-Maker cannot decide for, or on behalf of, the Assisted Adult. A Co-Decision-Maker can onlyassist in making decisions in any or all of the personal matter listed in the Co-Decision-Making Order. These can include: health care, where and with whom the adult can live, who the adult may associate with, social activities, education or vocational training, employment, legal matters or any other personal matters the Court determines necessary.
Co-decision-makers cannot assist with decisions on any personal matter not listed in the Co-Decision-Making Order or on any financial matters.
A Co-Decision-Maker must exercise his/her authority diligently, in good faith, and in the best interests of the Assisted Adult. As long as the Co-Decision-Maker does so, s/he cannot be held liable for his/her actions.
A Co-Decision-Maker can seek the advice and direction of the Court on any question respecting the Assisted Adult (so, too, can the Assisted Adult).
What if a Co-Decision Maker is not doing their job properly?
If this occurs, you can register a complaint with a complaints officer at the Office of the Public Guardian. Complaints must be made in writing, signed and submitted to the Office of the Public Guardian. Anonymous complaints will not be accepted.
You can obtain a supported decision-making authorization from the Office of the Public Guardian of Alberta, or you can obtain it online from their website. A complaint form is available from the Office of the Public Guardian of Alberta, or online at their website. See our page of Additional Resources page for contact information.
Filing such a complaint can lead to an investigation.
How can a Co-Decision-Making Order end?
A Co-Decision-Making Order remains operative until it is terminated or a Guardianship Order is granted, or a Personal Directive is activated. An Assisted Adult can withdraw consent to the co-decision-making arrangement by filing a “Withdrawal of Consent to Co-Decision-Making” form with the Court.
Where can I get more information?
For more information, see: