PCs accepted donations from Health Superboard

EDMONTON, AB (January 23, 2012): The Progressive Conservatives appear to have accepted taxpayer dollars as political contributions from Calgary Laboratory Services (CLS), a company wholly-owned and funded by the Alberta government through Alberta Health Services.

CLS, which describes itself as a “wholly-owned subsidiary” of the Superboard, donated $3,000 to the PCs in 2004 and $850 in both 2009 and 2010, according to Elections Alberta disclosure statements. 

In the last two years, CLS has received 86% of its funding from taxpayers through Alberta Health Services, according to its own financial statements. 

Under the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosures Act, it is illegal for “a regional health authority and a subsidiary health corporation under the Regional Health Authorities Act” to donate to political parties. [Section (1)(l)] 

CLS was incorporated in 1996 with the former Calgary Health Region (CHR) as the 49% owner and MDS Kasper Laboratories as the majority owner. Before 2006, MDS sold 25% of its share to CHR and on April 4, 2006 sold its remaining 25% to CHR – making the Alberta government through CHR the sole owner of Calgary Lab Services. 

“This is the clearest example yet of Alberta tax dollars going to pad the PC’s election war chest,” Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said. “We know they’ve solicited and accepted money from municipalities, school boards and universities. This time it’s an agency of the provincial government. As this scandal continues to unfold, I think Albertans should ask themselves if they want another four years of this government.” 

In December, the PC government shut down the Tom Baker Cancer Centre lab and moved all cancer testing to Calgary Laboratory Services without an explanation. The lab’s director of pathology, Dr. Tony Magliocco, sounded the alarm saying the closure and switch would put patients’ lives at risk. 

He also said he was given no explanation from AHS as to why the move was being done and was told by Superboard officials he would “regret it” if he kept asking questions.

 Wildrose Health Critic Heather Forsyth said the revelations about CLS’s contributions to the PCs cast even more doubt on the decision to close the Tom Baker lab and consolidate cancer testing at CLS. 

“This move needs to be investigated further and a judge-led inquiry held immediately, before the election,” Forsyth said. “We must be sure patients will not be affected.” 

The Wildrose Caucus stands for free enterprise, less government, increased personal freedom and democracy.