Edmonton

Australian economist is new head of Alberta health 'superboard'

A senior Australian health official has been appointed the new president and CEO of Alberta Health Services, the province announced Wednesday.

A senior Australian health official has been appointed the new president and CEO of Alberta Health Services, the province announced Wednesday.

Stephen Duckett is currently chief executive of the Centre for Healthcare Improvement for Queensland Health in Brisbane, Australia, where there's a large mix of publicly and privately delivered services in the health-care system.

Duckett, an economist, was quick to say Wednesday that doesn't mean he will be making radical changes to Alberta health care.

A system that works

"We've got a good system. We've got a system that works across the whole province," he said at a news conference in Edmonton.

"I'm not coming in with this huge privatization agenda. The board didn't say, 'Look, you know, that's your job.' ...

"The only discussions I've had ... are about better service delivery, more efficient service delivery, better quality of care, better access, you know, the things that I think Albertans want."

Duckett won the job from among more than 140 applicants worldwide. He starts with Alberta Health Services on March 23.

Duckett takes over from interim chief executive Charlotte Robb, who had helmed the so-called health superboard on a temporary basis since it was created last year.

Alberta Health Services was created last spring when the province decided to disband the nine regional health authorities.

The board also incorporated the Alberta Cancer Board, the Mental Health Board and the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (AADAC).

Duckett will be paid a base salary of $575,000 with a bonus of up to 25 per cent for performance, based on "objective and quantifiable results," a government news release said.

Duckett said his reasons for wanting to move to Edmonton were both professional and personal.

His family was looking to move after three years in Brisbane, and his wife has a sister who lives in Edmonton, he said.

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