Understanding the Bill of Rights and Residential Care

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This chapter briefly introduces the Residents’ Bill of Rights.

Residents retain all their rights and entitlements as adults.

In December 2009 a Residents’ Bill of Rights was added to the Community Care and Assisted Living Act and Residential Care Regulations , as well as the Hospital Act for residents in private hospital and extended care facilities.

These Bills of Rights can be an important legal mechanism to interpret and understand the required approach to care and quality of life for residents. While these are expressed as the resident’s rights, to actually give the rights effect often requires the support of other people (including “family” or “representative”) important to the resident. The Bill of Rights recognizes and supports their active involvement.

The Residents’ Bill of Rights set out some of the rights that residents living in care facilities can expect to have respected. This statutory list of Rights operates in addition to residents’ common law rights, their other rights under municipal, provincial or federal laws, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in respect of government actions, as well as rights from other sources.

British Columbia‘s Bill of Rights for residential care facilities is a combination of human rights, individual freedoms, consumer rights, care and representation rights, as well as policy expectations. The rights are to be read and contextualized in light of what is reasonably practical given the resident’s physical, mental and emotional circumstances. Where necessary, a resident’s rights may need to be balanced with the need to protect and promote this resident’s health or safety, or the rights, health and safety of other residents.

The Residents’ Bill of Rights is a distillation of a number of standards of care that have been identified over the years in the former Adult Care Regulations and newer Residential Care Regulations.(1) The rights in this Bill offer a commitment to care. They also set out the residents’ rights to health, safety and dignity; rights to participation and freedom of expression; as well as rights to transparency and accountability. The general scope and any general limitations on these rights are also identified. This list of rights is required to be posted in the facility.

While the Ministry of Health has described this as a “comprehensive list of rights”,(2) it is important to note these are a codification of certain rights.They are not the only rights that residents have in residential care facilities. These identified rights are sometimes identified as largely educational. (3)That kind of statement may inadvertently appear to diminish the importance of these responsibilities for operators. These are rights, not simply wishes or good intentions.

The legal scope of the Bill is discussed in Chapter Five on “Rights, Remedies and Problem Resolution”. Unlike some Canadian jurisdictions, British Columbia’s Residents’ Bill of Rights has not been specifically identified in law as a deemed part of the residential care contract and does not give a separate right of action. However, that does not mean they are not enforceable.

Understanding the Bill of Rights[edit]

The Bill of Rights in the Residential Care Regulations is not a comprehensive statement of rights. However it covers four important domains or themes:

(a) commitment to care;
(b) rights to health, safety and dignity;
(c) rights to participation and freedom of expression; and
(d) rights to transparency and accountability.


  1. Health Statutes (Residents’ Bill of Rights) Amendment Act. S.B.C. 2009, s.8. Bill 17 (2009). In force by Order in Council 708 December 8, 2009). Online: http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/08035_01 (Last accessed January 9, 2016).
  2. Ministry of Health. Policy and Standards. Residents Bill of Rights. Online: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/accessing-health-care/home-community-care/accountability/policy-and-standards (Last accessed January 9, 2016).
  3. British Columbia Law Institute. (September 2013). Report on Assisted Living in British Columbia. Report No. 72, at pg. 66.
This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by BC Centre for Elder Advocacy and Support, June 2014.