August 08, 2012

Horne must go: Wildrose

EDMONTON, AB (August 8, 2012): With the Superboard expense scandal as just the latest in a string of serious blows to Alberta’s public health care system, the Wildrose Official Opposition is calling on Premier Alison Redford to fire Health Minister Fred Horne. At a news conference in Edmonton today, Wildrose Official Opposition Leader Danielle Smith said the $350,000 Superboard expense scandal is the “exclamation point” on Horne’s tumultuous 10-month tenure as Health Minister. 

“Minister Horne has lost the confidence of Albertans to honestly and competently manage Alberta’s public health care system, and he should no longer have the confidence of the Premier,” Smith said. “On his watch, we have seniors being forced out of long-term care centres, seniors being force-fed inedible mush, a do-nothing public health care inquiry – and now, one of the most egregious taxpayer rip-offs we’ve ever seen. Ms. Redford should immediately relieve him as Health Minister and get on with the monumental task of restoring Albertans’ confidence in the public health care system.” Since the Superboard expense scandal broke, Horne has defended the lavish expenses Allaudin Merali charged (one of which included a $220-dinner with the two of them) while at the same time saying he was “outraged” and “dumbfounded” by them. He also admitted to having no knowledge of Merali’s well-documented past involvement in a similar expense scandal in Ontario prior to approving his hire as provincial controller and allowing his appointment as the Superboard’s chief financial officer. Redford appointed Horne Health Minister after becoming Premier in October of 2011. “Highlights” of his tenure include:

  • Supporting a sham of a public health care inquiry that ignores the ongoing issues of bullying and intimidation in the health care system;
  • Supporting a rushed, costly and unproven restructuring of primary care;
  • Overseeing a deteriorating relationship with Alberta doctors, characterized by tense contract negotiations and an ongoing lack of consultation;
  • Approving the abrupt closure of Little Bow Continuing Care Centre and the forced move of its 18 vulnerable patients (16 of which have dementia) and then refusing to be honest about why;
  • Defending the practice of serving pre-cooked, trucked-in inedible meals to seniors living in long-term care;
  • Handing out nearly $500,000 in bonuses to Superboard executives despite ongoing failures to meet performance targets;
  • Signing an agreement in principle with Alberta physicians before the April election and then backing out afterward;
  • Rubber-stamping the hire of Merali, claiming ignorance of his past history of ripping off taxpayers, and refusing to dig further into the expense claim issue.

“This is not the performance of a Minister Albertans can trust with our most important government service,” Smith said. “The evidence is clear and overwhelming. Horne’s tenure as Health Minister is marked by failures, weak responses, half measures, cover-ups and an indifferent attitude to the truth. If Premier Redford wishes to convince Albertans that she’s serious about fixing health care after this latest and most egregious scandal, she should start by replacing the man who has consistently shown he is not the man for the job.”


TRAVELLING IN STYLE … A list of Merali hotspot destinations, according to his expense claims:

  • Denmark
  • England
  • Korea
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Victoria, BC
  • Quebec City, QC
  • Australia
  • Chicago
  • Phoenix
  • Dallas
  • Boston (frequently)
  • Toronto (frequently)
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Cleveland
  • Ottawa
  • San Diego
  • Spain
  • Orlando
  • Redwood City, California (silicon valley)
  • Madison, WI
  • New Orleans
  • Vancouver
  • Calgary (frequently)
  • Washington DC
  • New York City
  • Kansas City, MO

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