AHS board passes leaner budget

Alberta Health Services is vowing to become leaner in next few years so taxpayers receive better value for money.

Alberta Health Services leadership vows to find new administrative efficiencies

The Alberta Health Services board passed a $13.3-billion budget on Monday while pledging to spend money more wisely.

The 2013-14 budget grew by three per cent over last year.

AHS must become leaner in next few years so taxpayers receive better value for money, said board chairman Stephen Lockwood.

Initiatives included in the budget include renegotiating contracts for some medical supplies, finding efficiencies in the way surgeries are scheduled and cutting administrative costs.

Lockwood admitted there's too much money being wasted.

"We can't say to Albertans today that we are running a real efficient, effective system. We got to get there, we got to get there quick," he said.

Lockwood said the controversial practice of paying bonuses to senior leaders will be discontinued.

And an independent evaluation of executive salaries will also be conducted this year to ensure they are fair and transparent, he said.

"If we have ten people or ten positions we don't need to fill and we can take two of those positions, add them together and get a very highly paid expert, I got no problem with that," he said.

The board plans to reduce administrative expenses by $35 million over the next three years.

Included in the cuts is a three-year compensation freeze for all management, which affects roughly 10,000 of their 100,000 staff members.

The budget still needs to be approved by the provincial health minister.