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Re-open health inquiry to investigate new queue jumping revelations: Wildrose

EDMONTON, AB (April 18, 2013): The Wildrose Official Opposition is today calling on Premier Alison Redford and Health Minister Fred Horne to re-open the queue-jumping health inquiry led by Justice John Vertes to investigate recent cases of queue jumping by senior health officials.

 In Question Period today, Smith urged Redford and Horne to re-open the inquiry after Wildrose revealed two high-profile cases of queue jumping earlier this week: Former Alberta Health Services Vice-President Alison Tonge expensing private medical imaging services to Alberta taxpayers in 2012 and former Capital Health official Michele Lahey receiving $7,000 of treatment courtesy of taxpayers at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota in 2007. In arguing for the inquiry to re-open, Smith said former Capital Health CEO Sheila Weatherill testified at the inquiry but failed to mention that she personally signed off on Lahey’s queue-jumping trip to the Mayo Clinic. “The facts we have uncovered this week certainly warrant a much deeper look into just how widespread these instances of queue jumping actually are,” Smith said. “This government has a duty to re-open the Vertes inquiry and allow him to investigate these cases, and others that may have been glossed over or completely missed during previous testimony. Albertans must be assured that their public health care system remains universal and fair.” Smith also sent a letter to Vertes today, asking him seek an extension himself and to use his own powers granted to him as the inquiry’s commissioner to compel documents related to 41 outstanding Wildrose Freedom of Information requests for health official expenses. “There is no question the news of the last two days has even further eroded Albertans’ confidence in the principles of universality and equal access in health care,” Smith said. “This government can either continue to sweep these allegations under the rug or they can grant Justice Vertes an extension to get to the bottom of it all.”