EDMONTON, AB (April 8, 2014): Alberta Health Services spent nearly $250 million on outside consultants for services such as communications advice and executive coaching in an 18-month period between 2012 and 2013, the Wildrose Official Opposition revealed today.
According to data obtained through Freedom of Information legislation, AHS doled out $248.8 million in more than 500 consulting contracts between April 1, 2012 and Sept. 26, 2013. That works out to nearly $460,000 every calendar day on outside consultants. Most of the money was spent on information technology and human resources consulting but millions were also spent on outside communications assistance (in one instance, from an AHS employee), expert coaching for AHS executives and even government relations advice from individuals with connections to the PC party. Wildrose Health Critic Heather Forsyth said the excessive consultants’ contracts are just further proof of how AHS has failed patients time and time again. “Imagine what that $250 million could have done if it actually made it to the front lines,” Forsyth said. “We could have bought more than 4,000 insulin pumps, hired more than 400 nurses, performed 2,500 hip and knee replacements and built 500 long-term care beds. Instead, we got expert coaching for highly-paid executive and more communications help. It just shows a total lack of priorities in health care and Minister Horne needs to respond.” Here are just a handful of the 512 consulting contracts AHS handed during the 18-month period:
With over 100,000 employees and a payroll of $6.7 billion, AHS is Alberta’s largest employer and the fifth-largest employer in Canada. “It’s hard to believe all of these consulting contracts were for jobs that couldn’t have been done by the 100,000 people already working for AHS,” Forsyth said. Wildrose Finance Critic Rob Anderson said the $250 million gone out the door for outside consulting is symptomatic of the culture of bureaucratic waste that has gripped the PC government from top to bottom. “It’s an absolutely mind-boggling amount of money and Albertans deserve some answers,” Anderson said. “Alberta Health Services has become an absolute black hole, sucking in billions of dollars never to be seen or spoken of again. Health Minister Fred Horne needs to hold AHS accountable for these wasted billions and get to the bottom of how so much taxpayer money could fly out the window on highly-paid consultants.”