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daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Insiders will pretend to be outsiders in the PC leadership race

Tweet Former Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel is not running for the PC Party leadership Former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel announced yesterday that he will not run for the Progressive Conservative Party leadership. Mr. Mandel was seen as a great hope by many Edmonton Tories, who believed him to be the outsider who could breath some fresh […]

Alberta Diary: If Albertans can’t trust actuary’s conclusions, why did AHS hire the same firm? Hint: it’s not the firm you can’t trust

The Alberta Health Services computing division, figuring out how much they spend on consultants this quarter, hard at work. Actual Alberta health bureaucrats may not appear exactly as illustrated.

LETHBRIDGE

It was interesting, surely, to read the Wildrose Party’s revelation yesterday that Alberta Health Services had spent close to a quarter of a billion dollars on consultants for such services as communications advice, executive coaching and fine arts expertise in a mere 18 months in 2012 and 2013.

But it was revealing, too, in a small way, to take a peek at whom some of the favoured consultants were on (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Municipal Affairs Minister Ken Hughes quits Alberta cabinet – presumably to run for PC leadership

Half-confirmed Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Ken Hughes, on the night in 2011 Alison Redford won the party’s leadership. Well, that was then and this is now, as the appalled looking unidentified passerby sensed to have sensed. Below: Doug Horner. Anyone else?

Alberta’s Municipal Affairs Minister quit his cabinet post yesterday, by the sound of it because he intends to run for the leadership of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party.

If that’s the reason for Ken Hughes unexpectedly showing up in one of the back rows of the Legislature’s latest seating chart – he didn’t give a lot of notice that (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: A mystery that won’t go away: Why do Alberta patients still face such long waits for lung surgery?

A horse with a silver blaze, curried mutton and a dog that did nothing in the night-time helped Sherlock Holmes get to the bottom of a mysterious death. Will it take a legendary detective to uncover the problem with lung surgeries in Alberta? Below: Dr. Verna Yiu; Dr. Raj Sherman; Dr. Ciaran McNamee.

Scotland Yard Detective: “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

Sherlock Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

Detective: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

Holmes: “That was the curious incident. (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Allaudin Merali files suit against Fred Horne, Alberta Health Services for breach of contract, defamation

Health Minister Fred Horne: target of defamation, breach of trust, loss of income suit by former Alberta Health Services CFO. Below: Allaudin Merali.

Allaudin Merali filed a statement of claim today in the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench against Alberta Health Services and Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne.

“The statement of claim includes claims for a breach of contract, defamation and loss of income,” Mr. Merali said in a carefully worded email sent to media and bloggers.

Since the former Capital Health Region and Alberta Health Services CFO’s expense account became a cause célèbre and a political embarrassment to the (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Small changes may signal glimmer of awareness of trouble ahead among rank and file Tory MLAs

Members of Alison Redford’s brain trust plan the latest hashtags in the Twitter war with AUPE … No! Wait! That’s Bob MacNamara telling LBJ about his plans for the war in Vietnam! What the hey? Below: That rude info-graphic; Red House Chief of Staff Farouk Adatia; White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.

Opposition political operatives in Alberta spent an entertaining weekend poking through the entrails of the Progressive Conservative government’s Sunshine List, noticing cool things to mention like the fact Premier Alison Redford’s chief of staff earns $144,000 a year more than the guy who does the same thing (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: About those 620,000 missing patient files: the timing’s interesting but the accountability’s a bigger deal

Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne: He’s outraged about those 620,000 missing patient files. Below: Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton. She’s looking in to it. Now, everyone go back to sleep.

Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne claims to be outraged he’s only just learned the personal health records of 620,000 Albertans were on a laptop computer that disappeared, presumably stolen, in Edmonton last September. And well he should be.

But no one in a position of responsibility seems all that concerned that the records – which included names, birthdays, health card numbers, billing codes and diagnostic codes of enough patients to fill (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Fred Horne’s flu-jab count: thoughtful response to a health problem or quick fix to a political crisis?

Albertans line up for flu shots at Bonnie Doon Mall in Edmonton yesterday. Actual vaccination lines may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Heath Minister and de facto Alberta health Services chief executive Fred Horne.

Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne, who nowadays doubles as the unofficial chief executive officer of Alberta Health Services, held a news conference in an Edmonton drugstore yesterday and told the respectfully gathered media that not enough Alberta health care workers are immunized against influenza.

Indeed, he claimed, only an alarming and startlingly precise 46 per cent of them have had the flu jab!

A drugstore (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Alberta’s 13 most under-reported political news stories of 2013

Another aircraft takes off from Fort McMurray International Aerodrome loaded with CO2 captured from Alberta’s Athabasca bitumen sands. The gas will be stored in the basements of Russian buildings as part of a deal worked out through the province’s $2-billion “carbon capture” program. Actual Alberta carbon capture boondoggles may not operate exactly as described. Below: A Lethbridge student continues studying as hydraulic fracking operations take place next to her school; why is this doctor smiling? Hint: He runs a Family Care Clinic.

Soon it’ll be 2014 and the mainstream media can get back to doing what it does best: panicking (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: A serious question for Albertans: Is the Redford Government out of control?

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…)

Susan on the Soapbox: Running with Scissors: Another AHS CEO Bites the Dust

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.

Duncan Campbell

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…)

Alberta Diary: More chaos at top of Alberta Health Services: CEO out after 1 month; 2-headed replacement found

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…)

False positive: private profit in Canada's health care: Edmonton’s Medical Laboratory Proposal: A Private Insanity

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…)

Susan on the Soapbox: Janet Davidson is appointed Deputy Minister of Health

Janet Davidson

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…)

Alberta Diary: 70-plus AHS VPs over the side: Alberta doesn’t reinvent the health care system – sort of…

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…)

Alberta Diary: Queue-jumping inquiry report surely wounds Alberta Liberal Leader Raj Sherman

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…)

Susan on the Soapbox: A(nother) Trip to the Mayo: The Power of Seamless Connections

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…)

Alberta Diary: Redford Government, Alberta Health Services Division, drops two political hot potatoes

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 Diary: Alberta Health Services to be run from Vancouver Island? Top 99 execs to get bonuses after all?

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…)

Alberta Diary: The way the cookie crumbled: Fred Horne fires Stephen Lockwood, entire AHS board

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 Diary: AHS Chair Stephen Lockwood to Health Minister Horne on executive bonuses: ‘Drop dead, Fred!’

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…)

Susan on the Soapbox: Protect the Rights of the Rich? The College of Physicians and Surgeons Grapples with Concierge Clinics

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…)

Alberta Diary: Pack the Senate with cheats, then call for reform, then take off for Peru? Good plan!

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…)

Susan on the Soapbox: A Trip to the Mayo Clinic: Your dime or mine?

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 Diary: Redford Government just can’t seem to stop fumbling health care expenses frenzy

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