Danielle In QP, November 21: Health Regions’ Expense Reporting

 
Ms Smith: When we raise questions about evidence of clear contraventions of the Election Act, the Deputy Premier tells us to submit the matter to the Chief Electoral Officer for investigation.

We did. Yet the Health minister, when he is presented with evidence linking a current health executive to such practices, ignores it, and he points to a new policy about expenses that Alberta Health Services has adopted. He says that everything’s fine. It’s not fine, Mr. Speaker. It’s a mess, and this minister refuses to clean it up. When will he clear the air and make all expenses for all executives for all regions publicly available?

Mr. Horne: Well, Mr. Speaker, what continues to be concerning and, if I might say, laughable in some cases is this hon. member’s attempt to present so-called evidence and connect issues that are simply not related. This question has been asked and answered several times. The hon. members opposite know full well that that information is available to them through the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. They’ve had no difficulty accessing this information, talking about it in the media and in the Legislature. What this government stands for is the most stringent travel and expense policy in place in this country today. It applies to government. It applies to many of our agencies.

The Speaker: The hon. leader.

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yet today there were more revelations of lavish expenses, this time at Covenant Health, an organization that receives $700 million in taxpayer money to provide health services. Expensive wine, fancy dinners, liquor during business hours. They say they’ll change their expense policy, but Albertans deserve to have these kinds of expenses repaid. That’s why we want all of the expenses of all of the executives for all of the health regions released going back to 2005. When will the minister act?

Mr. Horne: Mr. Speaker, I don’t know about the hon. Leader of the Opposition, but the people on this side of the House ran to be the government in 2012. If the hon. member wants to insist on looking into the affairs of health regions that no longer exist, from years gone by, that’s entirely up to her. What I can tell you is that these expenses have been made public, including the ones that the hon. member referred to just a moment ago. They are available for Albertans to examine as well as all members of this Legislature. Most importantly, as she has said, the board of Covenant Health has indicated clearly that they will be adopting our Premier’s new travel and expense policies, the strongest in Canada.

The Speaker: The hon. leader.

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The problem is that these same executives are still on the AHS payroll. Yesterday the Health minister said that we were trying to influence the inquiry process with our questions about Lynn Redford. The inquiry is actually asking for the public’s input. Right there on the inquiry website it says, “Do you have confidential feedback regarding preferential treatment in the public health services field in Alberta? If so, we would like to hear from you.” That’s what we are doing, Mr. Speaker. We are seeking the truth. Don’t Albertans deserve the truth, Health Minister?

Mr. Horne: Mr. Speaker, it’s amazing that the hon. Leader of the Opposition continues to present an affront to an independent inquiry under way in this province by continuing to drag the names of people who may have done nothing wrong through the mud in this Legislature. If the hon. member wants to present documents and information to the independent inquiry, that’s entirely up to her. Using this Assembly as a way to bring the names of individuals into disrepute and to defame them is, frankly, shameful.