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Shrouding provincial agencies from Sunshine List a big step back from transparency pledge: Saskiw

EDMONTON, AB (January 12, 2015): Shrouding all 200 provincial agencies, boards and commissions from Alberta’s sunshine list is a broken promise from the PC government and a major step back from Premier Jim Prentice’s pledge of greater accountability and transparency, Wildrose Justice Critic Shayne Saskiw said today.

In Dec. 2013, the PC government stated it expected all agencies, boards and commissions, “to adopt a similar policy for their organizations.”  By Oct. 2014, AHS spokesperson Kerry Williamson said the agency was working with the government to comply with any directive from the province to disclose salaries.

The decision not to add agencies, such as Alberta Health Services (AHS), to the sunshine list was made by the review committee launched in September.  At the time, Prentice said the review was part of his commitment to, “strong public agency board governance, accountability and transparency.”

Saskiw said given the history of agencies such as AHS being fertile ground for bloated salaries, severances and waste, this is a major step back from Prentice’s commitment of running, “the most ethical and transparent government in Canada.”

“The sunshine list was long overdue when it was finally introduced over a year ago with the expectation it would extend to all arms of the PC government,” Saskiw said. “However, the Premier had a choice to improve transparency and instead blocked it.  This will only mean more of the same secrecy, waste and mismanagement Albertans have become accustomed to.”

AHS’s 2014-15 budget alone is over $11.1 billion, composing almost a quarter of the province’s annual expenditures. 

Saskiw said this money belongs to Albertans, not AHS, or other boards and commissions, and they have the right to know where this money is being spent.

“Instead of making laws that protect government insiders and PC appointees, the Wildrose is committed to strengthening accountability and transparency,” Saskiw said.  “Wildrose would shine the light on AHS and all levels of government to protect taxpayers.”