Local MLA Rod Fox: Albertans deserve answers 0
In the months before the spring election, my Wildrose colleagues and I highlighted examples of what happens when a political party has been in government for too long.
We called attention to the PC party soliciting and accepting illegal donations, bullying and intimidation of health care professionals and local elected representatives, closed door contracts with PC connected firms with no public tendering, and the promotions and appointments of officials who have track records of abusing public dollars to top spots in government and the PC party. We called it a "culture of corruption", where insiders' use public dollars for personal or political benefit.
Now, a glaring example of this behaviour hit the news. The chief financial officer of Alberta Health Services was revealed to have received about $350,000 for unbelievable claims. Despite this background, he was appointed CFO of Alberta Health Services about three months ago. Because of public exposure, the CFO is stepping down.
What's more, just prior to the election, he had been appointed as the controller for the entire Government of Alberta, through an Order-in-Council, which is a special decree put forward by the Minister of Finance and approved by the premier and government cabinet ministers.
Regardless of his track record with the public purse, including involvement in a similar scandal in Ontario and despite warnings from Alberta's former auditor general about his e claims with Capital Health, the PC government put him in charge of internal financial controls for the entire government in March. It's unclear why he left that role, but immediately after the election, he became the CFO of Alberta Health Services (AHS).
Trying to explain this fiasco after it became public, the Minister of Health had few answers for Albertans. When trying to justify how this man got hired as the top financial watch dog for our health care system in the first place, the Minister of Health said he was "dumbfounded", "outraged" and didn't know about expenses or his previous involvement with the Ontario scandal.
After four decades in power, this government's decisions are totally out of line with the common sense of most Albertans. The government treat taxpayer dollars like a bottomless personal piggybank to reward insiders and political pals while Albertans suffer on the longest waiting lists in the country for specialized procedures and surgeries. Emergency rooms and Emergency Management Services are in crisis, seniors in long term care facilities have been fed disgusting food shipped long distances, and front line staff are scrambling to provide core services. Staff are going above and beyond to serve Albertans in a system that pays extravagant bonuses to senior AHS executives, even though the system continually fails to meet most of its targets.
Clearly, Albertans deserve answers - not only about expenses and hiring in Alberta Health Services, but about the management and oversight in other government departments too. As a member of the Official Opposition, I and my Wildrose colleagues will keep asking questions and holding the government accountable. As the constituents of Lacombe-Ponoka know, we will continue to advocate for "whistleblower" legislation.
We will continue to fight for local delivery of health care, to get rid of the top layers of high priced executives and to focus funds and decision making authority on the front lines so the health care system works better for all of us.