EDMONTON, AB (April 17, 2013): Alison Tonge, a former Alberta Health Services senior executive, charged treatments at a private diagnostic imaging clinic to Alberta taxpayers in 2012 and had the expense claim approved by current AHS President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Chris Eagle, the Wildrose Official Opposition revealed today.
Documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request show Tonge expensed $1,160 for treatment performed at Insight Medical Imaging in Edmonton in December 2011. The expense claim was signed by Dr. Eagle on Jan. 30, 2012. The explosive revelation comes a day after it was confirmed that another senior health executive, Michele Lahey, expensed $7,000 for private treatment at the Mayo Clinic in the United States in 2007.Health Minister Fred Horne blasted the Wildrose for bringing up the Lahey expenses from six years ago, repeatedly asserting that such abuses could not happen under the single health superboard currently in place, and suggesting that he was not accountable for them because “I was not the Minister of Health in 2007.” Wildrose Official Opposition Leader Danielle Smith said the Tonge expense claims from 2012 proves Horne’s “the past is the past” claims are no longer credible and current AHS leadership must be held accountable for allowing public health officials to charge taxpayers for private care. “Clearly, this attitude that health executives are entitled to front-of-the-line treatment that everyday Albertans are not still exists at the highest levels inside of AHS,” Smith said. “Minister Horne can no longer pass the buck on this by saying the past is the past and he wasn’t Health Minister. He is accountable whether he likes it or not and it’s up to him now to do something about it.” Tonge, who served as Executive Vice-President Strategy and Performance, is no longer with AHS. On top of the private treatment she expensed, Tonge also received a $426,576 severance package courtesy of Alberta taxpayers in January of 2012. She is currently the Director of Commissioning with the National Health Service in England. Smith said these examples of public health executives charging taxpayers for private care undermine the principles of Alberta’s health care system. “Our public health care system is built on the principles of universality and equal access for all,” Smith said. “We are now faced with the disturbing truth that the very executives currently responsible for upholding those principles are actively undermining them. The question now is what is Minister Horne going to do about it.”