The CEO of Covenant Health, the organization that runs Catholic health care facilities in Alberta, received a $112,500 bonus on top of his $472,500 salary last year.
The bonus paid to Patrick Dumelie — known as "at risk pay" — was 24 per cent of his base salary. In comparison, Dr. Chris Eagle, CEO and President of Alberta Health Services, receives a 15 per cent bonus — about $88,000 — on top of his annual salary which is approximately $500,000.
Covenant Health has 15,000 employees and an annual operating budget of $724 million, which comes mostly from a service contract with Alberta Health Services. AHS, in comparison has 90,000 employees and an annual budget of $11.9 billion.
The total compensation paid to Dumelie, including pension and non-cash benefits, was about $756,000 as of March 2011.
Covenant Health Board Chairman John Brennan is defending the bonus paid to Dumelie.
In an email to CBC News, he writes "attracting senior health executives is a highly competitive undertaking and to attract the quality of leadership needed requires adequate compensation within market conditions."
Dumelie wasn't the only Covenant Health executive to receive a bonus. The organization has 16 vice-presidents. CBC News received information on compensation paid to three senior vice-presidents and five vice-presidents, which show bonuses ranging from 10 to 15.7 per cent of their base salaries.
'Disrespectful' to front-line workers
The bonus paid to Dumelie touched a nerve with Sandra Azocar, executive director of Friends of Medicare. She says that amount could hire at least two licensed practical nurses.
"I find it disrespectful to the people that are receiving services in ... facilities that Covenant Health owns and the people that provide the front-line services," she said. "There's a huge difference between public sector workers and public sector management."
Liberal Leader Raj Sherman says big bonuses for executives sends the wrong message to front-line staff.
"I can understand if the health system is performing top notch. Everyone should get a bonus throughout the system," he said. "But just for the top executives getting $100,000, $200,000 bonuses, you know that just isn't fair"
The bonuses paid to Dumelie and the other Covenant Health executives are based on performance targets. The organization hasn't indicated what the performance measures were and how close executives came to meeting them.
The Covenant Health Board is appointed by and accountable to Alberta bishops. Richard Smith, the archbishop of Edmonton, declined an interview request from CBC News.
Covenant Health runs the Grey Nuns and Misericordia Hospitals in Edmonton, as well as Villa Caritas and the Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre.
The organization also operates hospitals in Banff, Vegreville, Mundare and Camrose; health centres in Killam and Bonnyville; and continuing care facilities in Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Trochu and Castor. .