New Alberta Health Services board appointed by province

Two years after the Tory government sacked the entire Alberta Health Services board, the province has appointed a new board to take its place.

Critics say NDP campaigned on local decision-making but has instead added more bureaucracy

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman says one challenge facing the new board is steadily rising costs. (CBC)

Two years after the Tory government sacked the entire Alberta Health Services board, the province has appointed a new board to take its place.

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman announced the appointments Friday, reassuring the public that board members will not be lavishly compensated, as critics said was the case in the past.

"Nobody will be receiving a six-figure salary," Hoffman said. "There will be compensation. It will be less than the previous board was compensated at.

"We don't have to worry about there being massive salaries."

Former Edmonton Journal publisher Linda Hughes has been hired to chair the new board. She will be paid $50,000 a year and will receive honorariums to attend meetings, with that extra amount capped at $3,000 a month, Hoffman said.

Other board members are:

  • Dr. Brenda Hemmelgarn (vice-chair)
  • David Carpenter
  • Hugh D. Sommerville
  • Marliss Taylor
  • Glenda Yeates

Richard Dicerni, deputy minister of Executive Council, will also serve on the board.

Wildrose reacts

Wildrose health critic Drew Barnes said he's disappointed the NDP appears to have reversed itself. During the spring election campaign, he said, the NDP vowed to get rid of AHS and return to local decision-making.

"They're going the opposite way. Here we've created more layers of bureaucracy in a system that is already too non-responsive."

The Wildrose, he said, believes a centralized board cannot properly manage different needs across all parts of the province.

"The best way to do it is to have the government and cabinet become accountable for it. They should provide the oversight. Look at all the scandals we've seen, spending and expense-wise and travel-wise, out of Alberta Health Services over the past three years."

Hoffman said the board will provide a wide range of views, with members bringing expertise in health care, legal issues, leadership and accounting.

The board will report directly to Hoffman.

"I know the buck stops with the minister," she said, "and I'm fine with that."

One the biggest challenges for the board will be controlling costs. For the past decade, annual health-care spending has risen at a rate of six to nine per cent per year.

"That, of course, is not sustainable or ideal moving forward," Hoffman said.

Asked about any possible changes to the way care is delivered in the province, Hoffman said: "Part of our platform was to stop experiments in the privatization of health care. They (board members) are very aware of that."

AHS has been without a board since 2013.

On June 11, 2013, the previous board voted to defy the Tory government and give bonuses to executives, despite wage freezes and staff cuts across the system.

The next day, then-health minister Fred Horne sacked the entire board.

Hoffman said she has met with the grand chiefs of Treaties 6, 7, and 8, as well as Métis representatives, and asked them to put forward names of aboriginal leaders who could be appointed to the board.


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