Danielle In QP, November 19: Health Regions’ Expense Reporting

Ms Smith: Mr. Speaker, the political donations scandal involves more than 40 illegal donations to political parties, and then, of course, there’s the health expenses scandal, where precious health dollars are being spent on lavish dinners and car repairs. Well, now there are new revelations that bring both of these scandals together. An employee with the former Calgary health region made expense claims for thousands of dollars in donations to political parties. Will the Minister of Health agree that enough is enough, that it is time to start a full investigation into all of the executives at all of the health regions going back to 2005?

Mr. Lukaszuk: Mr. Speaker, if this is not hypocrisy, I do not know what it is. While this member will stand up and accuse the Premier and accuse civil servants of making inappropriate donations – as she very well knows, if she has any proof thereof, she should file it with the electoral officer, who will investigate it – what she will not tell you is that she attends federal Conservative Party fundraisers and expects the government of Alberta to pay for it. [interjections] This is the federal Conservative Party.

What she will not tell you is that she pays for professional memberships and expects the taxpayer . . .

The Speaker: The hon. opposition leader. A point of order from Airdrie?

Mr. Anderson: Yes.

The Speaker: It’s noted. Hon. leader, proceed.

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There is a cloud of suspicion over all of this. Whether it’s complete disregard for the taxpayer, with lavish personal expenses, or whether it’s a complete disregard for the elections law, with partisan donations, it needs to be investigated, exposed, and eradicated. Why won’t the Health minister order Alberta Health Services to come clean and release all of the expense reports?

Mr. Horne: Well, Mr. Speaker, to my knowledge all of the expenses that have been requested through the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act have been released.

The fact of the matter is that this province and Alberta Health Services employ one of the strictest policies with respect to political donations that you will find anywhere in this country. If the hon. member wants to persist in talking about former health regions that no longer exist, that’s entirely up to her. We’re focused on the rules that we have in place today. Those rules are being followed.

The Speaker: The hon. leader.

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The problem is that all of those same executives are in the current Alberta Health Services. The government seems to be hoping that they can sweep this all under the rug just by hanging out Allaudin Merali to dry, but now there’s Lynn Redford: two executives out of hundreds, two regions out of nine. We believe there are more out there. If the government is confident that there aren’t, why not clear the air and release all of the expenses today?

Mr. Horne: Mr. Speaker, as I’ve said and I’ll say again, what this government is confident about is that we have the toughest regulations with respect to political donations and with respect to travel and expense claims that will be found anywhere in the country. Those rules have been in place since the Alberta Health Services Board was formed. They comply with provincial law. They were strengthened a number of years ago, again under the new board, and I continue to have confidence that those rules are being followed today.