Danielle In QP, October 24: Health Services Expense Reporting

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This isn’t the only example of how the PC government completely disregards taxpayer dollars that we saw over the summer. It began with Merali’s $350,000 spending spree in Capital health. It continued through the Premier’s million-dollar Olympic junket to London and then on to Evan Berger’s $120,000 patronage plum. Merali at AHS was bad enough, but the PCs actually offered him a job first to watch over the expenses of all government. Who was responsible for this sloppy bit of hiring?

Mr. Horner: Mr. Speaker, we did not hire him, so let’s be clear about that. The interview was done. There was an offer made. Mr. Merali did not accept that offer. I would suggest to you that the hon. member has brought up a previous member of this House being employed by this government. It’s interesting that there are five previous candidates in the election being employed by that party across the way.

The Speaker: Hon. members, just a cautionary note about invoking names of people who are not able to be here to defend themselves.

Second question, please.

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Given that the government’s buddy-buddy hiring system brought Merali back into thegovernment family and given that they are refusing to reveal all of the expenses incurred by all of the senior people in the health administration, who else in the government family are they trying to protect?

Mr. Horner: Mr. Speaker, obviously a politically staged question for the stunt. But, again, I’ll go back. The hon. members yesterday talked about the fact that they believe that hiring previous candidates in elections is somehow a bad thing, yet, as I said, their party has done exactly the same thing because they do see the value in people who are willing to put their names forward for election in this province and who have a passion for this province, as do we.

Ms Smith: Mr. Speaker, Albertans simply want the truth. Let’s go back to the issue at hand. The issue at hand is the release of all of the government expenses for those who are in senior positions at the health regions. Why won’t the government just agree to release all of the expense claims so that Albertans can have all of the truth about the health expenses of senior officials?

Mr. Horne: Mr. Speaker, the information pertaining to travel and expense claims of any executive member of any of the current or former health regions is entirely available to Albertans through the freedom of information and protection of privacy process. With respect to current members of the senior executive of Alberta Health Services members should know that at the request of those individuals their expenses have been released or are about to be released, and the board of Alberta Health Services has asked for an independent audit of those expenses to confirm if they were in accordance with the policies in place at the time.

Ms Smith: I seem to recall the board chair complaining about the cost of FOIP expenses.