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Public Interest Commissioner findings point to broken whistleblower legislation and health care system: Wildrose

EDMONTON, AB (July 22, 2014): Failure to disclose a $75,000 sole-source contract conflict of interest by a senior executive at Alberta Health Services (AHS) is further evidence of broken legislation governing whistleblowers and our health care system, the Wildrose Official Opposition said today.

The Public Interest Commissioner’s report released today outlined how one senior AHS executive was a former partner and shareholder with the corporation that received a $75,000 contract from AHS. Despite the conflict of interest not being disclosed to AHS, the Commissioner said the actions could not be described as wrongdoing under the current whistleblower legislation.

The investigation began after Wildrose Critic Kerry Towle wrote a letter to the Public Interest Commissioner to investigate allegations raised through a whistleblower.

Towle welcomed the Commissioner’s findings, but called it deeply disturbing that these findings could not be listed as “wrongdoing” under the current law.

“Today’s announcement shows us that there is no real openness or transparency from executives who break even their conflict of interest rules,” Towle said. “Wrongdoing is too narrowly defined in the current legislation and allows for little accountability. Despite finding a serious conflict of interest, nobody is being held responsible. It’s proof of what we’ve said all along, this legislation is designed to protect the government and not the taxpayers.”

The practice of sole-sourcing contracts at AHS is well established. In April, the Wildrose revealed that AHS spent almost $1 billion dollars on sole-source contracts between 2011 and 2013.

“Today is just another example of how little regard AHS has for Alberta taxpayers,” Wildrose Health Critic Heather Forsyth said. “Why are these contracts being handed out to special friends of executives instead of being spent on the businesses that will provide best value for Alberta taxpayers and our front-line health care workers? It’s just sickening and Albertans who rely on our health care system deserve better.”