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Senior health exec gets untendered consulting contract the day after leaving AHS

EDMONTON, AB (April 9, 2014): Health Minister Fred Horne must explain how a senior health executive received an untendered consulting contract worth more than $250,0000 from Alberta Health Services the day after she left AHS, the Wildrose Official Opposition said today. Yesterday, Wildrose revealed AHS spent $250 million on outside consultants between April 2012 and September 2013, including $600,810 for executive coaching. The documents Wildrose obtained through Freedom of Information Legislation show Whitnack & Associates received $348,250 of that total. A separate FOIP document obtained by Wildrose shows Whitnack & Associates also received a $252,000 sole-sourced contract signed on Sept. 1, 2011 for “coaching, mentoring, change management and transition support.” It is unclear from the documents if that contract is over and above the $348,250 it received in executive coaching consulting fees. Pam Whitnack, the owner of Whitnack & Associates, was the Executive Vice-President Rural, Public and Community Health when AHS was formed. According to the AHS annual report for 2011-12, Whitnack served in that role until May 31, 2011 when the position was abolished. The report also says Whitnack continued as an employee with AHS until August 31, 2011. It has been reported in the media that Whitnack retired with a $853,000 supplementary pension. It all means that Whitnack received the $252,000 sole-sourced contract the day after concluding her employment with Alberta Health Services and leaving with a hefty pension package. “Obviously, the optics of this are atrocious,” Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said. “Here we have AHS handing out hundreds of thousands of dollars in a sole-sourced contract to an individual who left the organization the day before.  It just goes to the culture of bureaucratic waste that has afflicted our health care system and resulted in Albertans waiting longer and longer for the care and treatment they need.” Wildrose Health Critic Heather Forsyth said Horne has to stop defending the ludicrous amounts AHS spends on outside consultants, as he did yesterday, and get to the bottom of why so much money is wasted on frivolous projects like the Whitnack contracts. “Albertans are sick and tired of seeing their valuable health dollars flushed away on consultants,” Forsyth said. “What’s worse, this particular contract went to someone with very close ties to AHS the day after she left the organization. Something is seriously wrong in health care when something like this is allowed to take place.”