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More of the same: New data shows Jim Prentice's severance promise doesn't go far enough

CALGARY, AB (October 6, 2014): Today, the Wildrose released new data showing exorbitant severance packages that would not be covered by Premier Jim Prentice’s so-called Accountability Act and announced it would cap severances and bonuses for all senior managers and government officials – not just political staff.

Prentice announced that he will only limit severance for political staff but new figures from Service Alberta obtained through Freedom of Information legislation show sweetheart severance deals extend well his network of PC insiders.

The data shows the between 2011-12 and 2013-14, Service Alberta – under the leadership of Prentice’s leadership campaign co-chair and current minister Manmeet Bhullar – paid out over $5,724,034 in severance to departing staff.

That total includes payouts of $201,950, $205,310, $208,130, $275,780, $368,600, $432,362, $436,942, $476,942, $525,070, $533,810, and $678,680.

Documents can be found by clicking here (listed payments) and here (totals).

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said a Wildrose government would cap severances and bonuses for all senior managers and officials across government instead of for just a handful of political staff.

“Clearly, Jim Prentice’s promise to end sweetheart severance deals for political staff only doesn’t go far enough. The problem runs much deeper,” Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said. “Albertans are ready to send a message that they’ve had enough of government insiders getting rich off of them and they’re ready to vote for a party that will put their interests first.”

Wildrose would pass legislation limiting severance packages for all senior government officials and political staff to less than $100,000 for five or fewer years of employment and no more than $200,000 for more than five years of employment.  

It would also prohibit collecting two severances within a five-year period, publicly post all severance agreements and bonuses over $2,000 in value online, and cap all bonuses to a maximum of 15% of income.

PC MLAs voted against similar legislation proposed by Wildrose Finance Critic Rob Anderson earlier this year.

The terms under Prentice’s proposed legislation only applies to political staffers who are fired for cause and doesn’t apply to Alberta Health Services or officials in government departments. 

That means Prentice’s legislation would not apply to severances packages as outrageous as:

  • Jack Davis - $5.2 million severance in 2008 after being fired by the Calgary Health Region
  • Allaudin Meralli - $1 million severance in 2009 after billing over $300,000 in expenses.  Merali was later hired by Prentice Senior Policy Advisor Doug Horner as the chief controller of the Alberta Treasury in 2012.  
  • Sheila Weatherill: $2 million after being fired by Capital Health in 2008.  Weatherill, later appointed to the AHS board by the PC government, was responsible for approving several of Merali’s lavish expenditures
  • Dr. David Megran - $730,000 in severance and another $1 million in a lump-sum pension payment in 2014.
  • Alberta Health Services - $3.2 million in performance bonuses awarded to 99 AHS executives.

Anderson said Albertans deserve a government that is committed to doing more than sugar coating over a culture of entitlement that pervades every corner of this PC government.

 “Unlike Mr. Prentice, the Wildrose is willing to put an end to the hundreds of millions in ridiculous severance and bonuses paid out to AHS executives and senior managers across government,” Anderson said. “It’s time to send the PCs a message that they’re waste and entitlement will no longer be tolerated.”