Danielle In QP, November 20: Health Regions’ Expense Reporting

Ms. Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’m going to look into the government’s horrible decision to take us back into debt in a minute, but first there are pressing issues about the health care system and the erosion of public confidence. When an employee of Edmonton’s former health region was found to have lavish but legal expenses, he was fired. Now an employee of the former Calgary health region was reimbursed for expenses that were directly related to partisan political activities. This, of course, is illegal. Since the employee is still under employment with Alberta Health Services, we wonder: what is the Health minister going to do about it?

Mr. Horne: Mr. Speaker, as we discussed yesterday in the House in response to similar questions, these expenses that the hon. member refers to occurred among health regions that no longer exist. Since the creation of Alberta Health Services in 2009 the policies and procedures around political donations have been made very clear. They are in conformance with provincial law, they are enforced, and I have no reason to worry as minister that those policies are not being followed today.

Ms Smith: Mr. Speaker, that was the same case with Allaudin Merali. The Deputy Premier challenged us yesterday to produce evidence of illegal donations, and we have produced such evidence, thousands of dollars’ worth, and so has the media. We believe that there could be more evidence, yet the Deputy Premier’s colleague the Minister of Health doesn’t want to look at it. What are you both covering up?

Mr. Horne: Okay. The first thing that should be very clear to the hon. member is that the Minister of Health does not make hiring or human resources decisions for Alberta Health Services. The policies and procedures that the hon. member is aware of today, that are in place today, are what are of primary concern to this government. If the hon. member wants to talk about health regions that no longer exist, perhaps she could explain to us why she ran to be the government in 2012? That’s a non sequitur, Mr. Speaker, that we don’t understand.

The Speaker: The hon. member.

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The problem is that it’s the same executives who are in positions in AHS who were in positions in the former health regions.

Now, yesterday we asked the minister to do something to help erase the growing cloud of suspicion over the health care system: expenses, donations, bullying and intimidation, queue-jumping, forced contract settlements, and even the threat of a doctors’ strike. It’s a mess. When will the minister clear the air, begin to release all of the expenses of all of the executives for all of the health regions going back to 2005?

Mr. Horne: Mr. Speaker, what is clear is that the hon. member, with all due respect, is very adept at construing, loosely, conspiracy theories from one issue to another. The fact of the matter is that this party and other parties in this House have the opportunity to avail themselves of the provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. They have had ample access to information that makes it possible for these discussions to go on and on ad nauseam in the House. The policies and procedures are clear today. This is a government of 2012. We stand by the policies of Alberta Health Services. They are in conformance with provincial law.