AHS expense controversy prompts policy review
The provincial government will review its travel and expense claim policies in the wake of a spending scandal involving Allaudin Merali, a former executive with Alberta Health Services.
"I am leading an initiative that will result in greater transparency on travel and expenses, with stricter reporting requirements for cabinet ministers, as well as executives in government and in agencies, boards and commissions," said Don Scott, the associate minister of accountability, transparency and transformation, in a news release on Wednesday.
Scott plans to consult with Jill Clayton, the province's information and privacy commissioner, to review best expense claim practices from other jurisdictions.
The province also plans to hire an independent human resources firm to improve how AHS and the provincial government hire senior executives.
Merali was fired as the health board's chief financial officer last week after documents uncovered in a CBC News investigation revealed thousands of dollars in expense claims for lavish dinners, bottles of wine and repairs to his Mercedes Benz.
Expenses totalling $346,000 were claimed between January 2005 and August 2008 when Merali was the chief financial officer for the former Capital Health region.
The expenses were approved by former Capital Health CEO Shelia Weatherill, who resigned her position on the AHS board last week.
Merali was hired back at Alberta Health Services three months ago. The province announced on Monday that he would not be paid severance and that there would be a independent forensic audit of his expenses.
Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith called on Premier Alison Redford to fire Health Minister Fred Horne. Smith believes the scandal has caused Albertans to lose confidence in Horne's ability to manage the province's health-care system.
"The superboard expense scandal is just an exclamation point on a tenure as health minister marked by failures, weak responses, half measures, cover-ups and an indifferent attitude," Smith told a news conference in Edmonton.
However, a spokesperson for Horne said he would not dignify Smith's demand with a response.