Friday, September 21, 2012

Cover up at Alberta Health Services?

Alberta Health Services is not going ahead with the 3rd party audit announced by CEO Chris Eagle on August 21st into the expenses of executives of the old Capital Health regional board. This was in addition to the audit announced in early August into the expenses of Alluden Merali.

Calgary Herald: "The Alberta Health Services board has limited a third-party audit of expenses to the spending of its former finance boss Allaudin Merali — reversing a directive from the medical authority’s president last month widening the probe to other Edmonton health executive." And The Calgary Sun said as much last week.

Here is what Eagle said on August 21st on the expanded audit:
“We wanted to make sure that we were going to do a review that is reasonably complete,” Eagle said.
“There’s so much concern around the level of expenses, I think we really need to make sure that things were done in the proper way. . . . I think the public really expects we check and double check this.
 So what changed? Is a smaller audit more "reasonably complete" than the expanded audit?  No.  Has the 'level of concern' gone down? No.  Were things done in a 'proper way'? We have no way of knowing without the expanded audit. Has the public changed their expectations?  A big NO!

So why than are AHS dropping the idea of an expanded audit? I don't know for sure but I may just have an explanation, and it is not pretty.

The spin from AHS and the Redford government is that they are focused on the future and not the past, particularly before the formation of AHS who claim to have put new procedures in place to curb these expense account 'issues'. Which does seem reasonable on a certain level as 'they' were not responsible for what went on before AHS was formed; except that that the top level of AHS is made up of many of those same people who DID allow improper expense spending to occur under their watch and were being reimbursed for their own expenses during this time. An audit is still needed.

And what about after AHS was formed? We already have seen an example of improper spending during this time when the expenses of the very same Chris Eagle were exposed under FOIP and it was revealed that he  claimed airfare and ground transportation to attend an April 2011 premier's dinner in Calgary. A big no no under the NEW AHS guidelines and also provincial law, and if one improper claim made it through the new AHS rules, who is to say that others didn't as well? An audit is still needed.

Oh, and who was it that signed off on Eagle's expense claim for that premier's dinner?  None other than Ken Hughes, chair of the AHS superboard at the time and current Minister of Energy in the Redford government. 

Any audit of AHS spending would be sure to implicate him further and lets face it; family members don't go around auditing other family members. In case you were wondering about the 'family members' line came from it refers to comments made by Alberta Ethics Commissioner Neil Wilkinson about the hiring of defeated PC MLA Even Berger by the PC's into a government job in spite of conflict of interest rules.

Oh, and Neil Wilkinson was also the Chair of the old Capital Health Board and would have had HIS expenses audited under that announced and now cancelled expanded audit.

Weird coincidence isn't it?

If it walks like a cover up duck...


Frances said...

I'd really like to see CRA take a look at these expenses. Regardless of company policy relating to reimbursement of expenses, reimbursement of expenses deemed to be personal should trigger a box 40 amount on the T4 showing the amount of said reimbursement as 'taxable benefits', and the inclusion of the box 40 amount in box 14 (total income).

Anonymous said...

This government spends a lot of time and money burying its past. Including its campaign slogan"not your father's Conservative party".