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Stephen Duckett, Alberta Health Services CEO, signed the letters informing recipients of bonus pay. ((CBC))

The Alberta Opposition is questioning a scorecard used by Alberta Health Services to hand out hundreds of thousands of dollars in executive bonuses.

According to letters obtained by the Alberta Liberal Party, the health superboard gave bonuses ranging from $19,000 to just under $130,000 in 2008-09 — a fiscal year when AHS almost tripled its deficit.

In the letters signed by Stephen Duckett, president and CEO of AHS, recipients were rated on the "Calgary Region Balanced Scorecard" which was then used to calculate their bonus pay.

AHS correspondence

Click here to see the Alberta Health Services' bonus letters obtained by the Alberta Liberal Party.

"What is the Calgary Region Balanced Scorecard? What does it measure? And how can these bonuses be justified in a year when the deficit was tripled?" asked Kevin Taft, the Liberals' health critic, on Tuesday.

Taft also took issue with Duckett's statement in the bonus letters that: "Many of the typical individual and portfolio performance measures used to establish this payment were difficult to measure accurately and consistently during this year of transition."

"How can you hand out five- and six-figure bonuses when you can't even measure performance?" said Taft.

AHS overhauling contract negotiations

Taft called for an end to bonuses for AHS senior officials.

"AHS executives who are already earning generous six-figure salaries shouldn't need additional incentives to do their jobs, especially when most public servants are facing wage freezes," Taft said in a statement.

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach would not say on Tuesday whether or not the bonuses were necessary, but said that the superboard was working on a standard contract for senior staff.

"These are contracts that were entered into, so on the government side we had an agreement with our senior officials on the bonus side," he said. "They have said that they've undertaken to overhaul the whole process of executive contract negotiations."

A recent survey commissioned by the AHS found that the majority of staff who responded were indifferent about working for the board and pessimistic about its future.

Twenty-eight per cent of respondents said they had trust and confidence in the board's ability to achieve its goals.