Whose House is it? In Alberta, not yours! Public service union members tried to enter the Alberta Legislature yesterday to protest Bills 45 and 46, and soon found the doors barred. Below: Some more of the 400 or so people who braved the coldest spot in Edmonton for an impromptu rally organized by public service workers yesterday.
Albertans got a first look at the Redford Government’s suspiciously timed public employee “restraint” legislation yesterday – which effectively bans meaningful collective bargaining in the public sector and allows the province to impose agreements by fiat.
Many of them, of course, won’t (Read more…)
It’s like running with scissors. It’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt.
On Oct 17, 2013, Duncan Campbell took over as interim CEO of Alberta Health Services, replacing Dr Chris Eagle who abruptly resigned with two years left to go on his five year employment contract.
Mr Campbell eagerly took up the challenge of rebuilding AHS. Within a week he’d downsized the senior leadership team and was planning to finalize the remaining leadership changes and review the functions of the zones and province-wide services by Oct 31.
He acknowledged the many parts of (Read more…)
Is this the management model in the Alberta Health Services executive suite? Actual Alberta health ministers or AHS administrators may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: AHS Administrator John Cowell, ex CEO Duncan Campbell, new co-CEO Brenda Huband and new co-CEO Rick Trimp (no relation).
This just in! Alberta Government replaces Alberta Health Services CEO …. again!
The revolving door to the AHS executive suite is now spinning so quickly somebody’s going to get hurt. Unless, that is, everybody stays calm….
Now, it’s true that Duncan Campbell, who was put in the top job at AHS just 30 days (Read more…)
I wrote the following post as an op-ed in the Edmonton Journal, October30, 2013. I hope it plays a part in halting the privatization of Edmonton’s medical laboratories.
The Alberta government is proposing to give the private sector a 15-year contract to run medical laboratory services in Edmonton. This policy meets the popular definition of insanity: a condition where you do the same thing again expecting a different result. The government proposal has been tried many times before, twice in Alberta, and it has not worked.
In 1996, premier Ralph Klein sought a private-sector provider to deliver all laboratory services (Read more…)
The Redford government just passed an Order in Council appointing Janet Davidson Deputy Minister of Health. This decision has many implications, not the least of which is this: Will Ms Davidson continue in her role as Official Administrator of Alberta Health Services? Is she legally allowed to perform both roles and collect two pay cheques, one as Official Administrator and one as Deputy Minister, at the same time? If she can, is this an indication that the government is backing away from its practice of creating boards and packing them with cronies who’ve served them (Read more…)
Another visually riveting moment in the history of Alberta Health Services – from left to right, CEO Chris Eagle, Health Minister Fred Horne and just-appointed Deputy Health Minister Janet Davidson at yesterday’s news conference in Edmonton, exactly as illustrated. Below: NDP Leader Brian Mason speaks for the opposition; new AHS Administrator Dr. John Cowell.
Methinks the minister doth protest too much.
OK, I didn’t count. But Health Minister Fred Horne, Alberta Health Services Chief Executive Officer Chris Eagle and Janet Davidson – we’ll get to who she is in just a moment – kept insisting at their press conference yesterday (Read more…)
Wildrose Opposition Leader Danielle Smith, looking for all the world like a future premier, lands a few easy punches on the government after the release yesterday of the health care queue-jumping inquiry report. Below: Alberta Liberal Leader Raj Sherman and former AHS CEO Stephen Duckett, both assailed in the report by Commissioner John Z. Vertes.
Time will tell if the report of Alberta’s inquiry into medical queue jumping turns out to be the skillful strategic win for the Progressive Conservative government of Premier Alison Redford it appeared to be when it was released yesterday morning.
But one thing is virtually (Read more…)
For the record, the Soapbox family is not crazy about going to the US for medical care, but our eldest daughter (let’s call her “Missy”) has some serious health issues (I blame it on Mr Soapbox’s gene pool) and her GP refused to book the necessary appointments with specialists because—get this—“there were too many cooks in the kitchen”!
The Doctors Mayo
So we followed in the footsteps of Mr Soapbox and our younger daughter “Mini” and set out for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
We got off to a less than auspicious start. I kicked over Missy’s hot (Read more…)
Health Minister Fred Horne, at the wheel of Alberta Health Services, reverses course on some unpopular policies faster than you can say “take action to improve care.” The actual AHS does not actually resemble an NDP-orange Dodge Charger from Hazzard County, Alberta. Below: AHS Administrative Officer Janet Davidson, at right, with the real Fred Horne.
If you ever wanted proof there’s more to democracy than just elections, and that democratic protest can really make a difference, all you have to do is think about the screeching bootleg turn executed by Alberta Health Services yesterday.
The G-forces must have been (Read more…)
Alberta Health Services CEO Chris Eagle, Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne and AHS Administrative Officer Janet Davidson at yesterday’s press conference in Edmonton.
Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne began the day yesterday explaining why he may not be able to prevent Alberta Health Services’ 99 top managers from getting their controversial bonuses – you know, the ones he fired the 10 members of the AHS board over on Wednesday.
Of course, this just encourages tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorists who have decided it’s highly unlikely Mr. Horne canned the board of the giant public health care agency over something that popped onto (Read more…)
The former Alberta Health Services Board, fired yesterday by Health Minister Fred Horne, as seen by the 99 top executives of the provincial health care agency. Actual AHS board members may not appear exactly as portrayed by the health minister. Below: Former AHS CEO Stephen Duckett, former AHS board chair Stephen Lockwood, Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne.
As Stephen Duckett, once the CEO of Alberta Health Services, might have said to Stephen Lockwood, who until yesterday morning was the chair of the AHS Board: “Well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.”
Dr. Duckett and Mr. Lockwood both met sudden (Read more…)
Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne: it’s hard to imagine how he can come out of this fight with Alberta Health Services Chair Stephen Lockwood not looking foolish or weak. Below: Mr. Lockwood in a screen grab from his first news conference as AHS chair.
Whatever happens next, it seems certain Alberta Health Minster Fred Horne is going to end up with egg on his face.
Indeed, when the dust has settled from the current contretemps at Alberta Health Services, the entire government of Alison Redford is likely to look foolish.
Challenged yesterday by Alberta Health Services Chair Stephen Lockwood over (Read more…)
F. Scott Fitzgerald once said to Ernest Hemingway, “You know, the rich are different from you and me.” Hemingway replied, “Yes. They’ve got more money”.*
I was sitting in a meeting of the Council of the College of Physicians and Surgeons when F. Scott Fitzgerald’s comment came to mind. It’s true. The rich are different from you and me. For one thing they don’t have to advocate for themselves; others will do it for them.
The Council Meeting
The College of Physicians and Surgeons regulates the practice of medicine in Alberta. (Read more…)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, not pictured because he’s pretty well disappeared, has heeded the touristic lure South America, illustrated above. Below: Canadian Parliamentarian Joan Crockatt and U.S. Representative Davy Crockett. Note to Globe and Mail: There is a difference! Below them: Allaudin Merali.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper was apparently grinding away at his Conservative caucus yesterday morning about the need for Senate reform.
An interesting strategy, his!
First you pack the place with self-entitled cheats and porkchoppers like Mike “The Puffster” Duffy, then you argue that their misdeeds are proof the institution needs reform!
If nothing else, this suggests (Read more…)
Mayo Clinic seen from Cafeteria
This past January Mr Soapbox and my youngest daughter (let’s call her Mini) went on a pilgrimage to the Mayo clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Unbeknownst to them they were following in the footsteps of Ms Michele Lahey, former Chief Operating Officer of the former Capital Health Region, who’d made the trek almost six years to the day before them.
Ms Lahey was advised by her Alberta oncologist that she was cancer-free. But her boss, Sheila Weatherill, CEO of Capital Health, told her to get a second opinion from the Mayo.*
Mini (Read more…)
Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne, right, helps Premier Alison Redford get ready to face Opposition questions about Alberta Health Services expense accounts. Alberta politicians may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Health executives Michele Lahey, Sheila Weatherill, Alison Tonge.
The clueless ineptitude of the Redford Government dealing with Alberta’s continuing health system expense account brouhaha is matched only by the belligerence of the Opposition in portraying the situation as an outrage and a scandal.
Since mainstream media now routinely refer to the matter that way – “Redford, opposition trade barbs over Alberta Health Services expense scandal,” is how the (Read more…) Journal headlined the story yesterday – it’s fair to say the opposition strategy is working.
Whether it’s in answers to questions in the Legislature, management of issues by Premier Alison Redford’s newly hired phalanx of former Ontario spin doctors, the juvenile quality of a stream of . . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Redford Government just can’t seem to stop fumbling health care expenses frenzy
10-4 Good Buddy! Why is Stephen Lockwood, above, getting to drive this truck, while Chris Eagle’s got the airbrakes ticket? Just wondering. Senior Alberta Health Services officials may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: The real Stephen Lockwood; Stephen Duckett, with his politically fatal cookie.
The newish chairman of the board of Alberta Health Services, this province’s massive public health agency, was in the media yesterday advising elected representatives to keep their paws off day-to-day operations of the health care system.
A culture of political interference is creating big problems, Stephen Lockwood complained to a local newspaper, and Something Must (Read more…) Done. Probably a lot of Albertans nodded their heads in agreement with this without thinking too carefully about what Mr. Lockwood was actually saying.
“If you guys want to set the policy, OK, but you can’t be interfering in the daily operations,” Mr. Lockwood told Alberta’s . . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: AHS chair to politicians: Do as I say, not as I do!
Alberta Health Services Board Chair Stephen Lockwood demonstrates how to trim a provincial health care budget. Actual AHS board members may not be exactly as illustrated. Below: The real Mr. Lockwood in his official AHS portrait.
Two pernicious and slightly dissonant myths that cloud discussion of public health care are the idea that to get the best public-sector managers we must pay excessive private-sector style salaries and perks and the plainly preposterous notion the private sector always does everything better.
So it was interesting how Stephen Lockwood, the apparently cold-eyed and pragmatic trucking company executive from Okotoks picked by the
. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Alberta Health Services trimmers toss out a couple of market-fundy myths to save cash
Dr. Ron Bridges of the Helios Wellness Clinic testifying yesterday in a screen grab from CBC’s broadcast. Below, Dr. Ciaran McNamee, who hasn’t been called to testify.
What are we to make of the fact Alberta’s preferential health care access inquiry has failed to call a witness who was at the centre of one of the most spectacular allegations of medical queue jumping in recent years?
Really, yesterday’s report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. that the often strangely passive inquiry has decided not to bother asking Dr. Ciaran McNamee to testify about what happened to his lung surgery patients simply
. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Why is Alberta’s medical queue-jumping inquiry uninterested in dramatic 1990s case?
Fresh air and yogurt might have helped these guys live to be 160, but if they’d lived in Alberta, instead of Russia, where could they afford to sleep? Below, seniors care in Calgary, back in the day, before oldsters all carried tennis racquets, rode bicycles and looked like fashion models, only with white hair.
Do you remember that promise by the Alberta government to build 3,000 seniors’ beds? It turns out they only planned to rent them!
The problem with renting beds from private companies, of course, is the same as with any form of privatized medicare: it ends up
. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Renting seniors’ beds is a formula for failure – and it’s time for Alberta to stop doing it
When Richard Nixon told David Frost than an illegal activity is not illegal “when the president does it” he confirmed what we’d all suspected: the “tone at the top” as far as the 37th President of the United States was concerned was hopelessly corrupt.
Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Most breaches of good governance are not as dramatic as Watergate, but the consequences of poor governance, even on a small scale, can be devastating.
Bearing that in mind, let’s turn our attention to the governance of Alberta Health Services (AHS).
. . . → Read More: Susan on the Soapbox: The “Tone at the Top” from two perspectives: Richard Nixon and the AHS
Alberta’s perpetually mismanaged boom-and-bust economy makes homelessness worse, as hopeful immigrants flock here in hopes of a better life, and find nowhere to live. At least this guy has warm boots. Below: Dr. Stan Houston and Dr. Mat Rose.
Welcome to Alberta, the Richest Place on Earth, where body lice are showing up on residents of homeless shelters, an affliction normally associated with Third World refugee camps.
Earlier this week, University of Alberta infectious diseases specialist Dr. Stan Houston warned colleagues in an email of “a very powerful health indicator of the kind of poverty we are seeing (and creating)
. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Edmonton’s homeless shelters home to body lice, ‘refugee-camp-like conditions’
Who’s in change here? Progressive Conservative MLAs get ready to supervise the work of an Alberta Health Services medical team while Alberta voters look on. Health officials, physicians and electors may not be exactly as illustrated. Below: AMA President Dr. Michael Giuffre; a space invader
Is the increasingly bitter fight between Alberta’s government and the province’s physicians just about money? It’s said here it’s more about who gets to control the health care system.
If you need evidence for this assertion, look no further than the fact just two and a half months ago Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne said
. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Is Premier Alison Redford’s bitter fight with the docs about money, or control?
Coming soon to seniors’ centres in Alberta, a new model of elder care? Below: Health Minister Fred Horne.
On Monday, Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne announced a year-long project to study seniors’ residential centres and figure out the best way to fund and run them.
Sounds good, lots of Albertans must have concluded, before getting on with their business confident the administration of seniors’ care under Premier Alison Redford is in good hands.
But if Mr. Horne and the provincial Health Department are really serious about assessing the financial sustainability of the 400 or so seniors’ facilities, weighing various funding
. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Why is Alberta studying seniors’ care at the same time as it’s privatizing it?