Severance pay for premier's staff questioned

The premier's office has paid more than $2 million in severance to former employees over past three years, with $585,000 paid out since the last provincial election
The province won't release details about severance paid to former staff of the premier 2:15

The premier’s office has paid more than $2 million in severance to former employees over the past three years, with $585,000 paid out since the April 2012 provincial election.

Eighteen employees have left since Alison Redford became Progressive Conservative Party leader in October 2011.

The numbers have led opposition parties to wonder what’s going on.

"The question is is the premier hiring bad employees, or is she a bad boss, to have such high turnover in the office," Liberal Leader Raj Sherman asked.

"Her office has been kind of a revolving door with people coming and going all the time, so the severance costs are much higher than they probably should be," said NDP Leader Brian Mason.

The government will not reveal how many employees received severance or how much was paid to each individual.

Associate Minister of Accountability, Transparency and Transformation Don Scott said that information can only be released through a freedom of information request.

"There is an independent privacy commissioner," he told the legislature. "That is the proper process for requests like this to be dealt with...that's the right process to follow."

In the past, the privacy commissioner has ruled in favour of releasing such information.

In 2007, the commissioner ordered the government to disclose payments to former chief of staff Rod Love and Alberta’s representative in Washington, Murray Smith.

Assistant Privacy Commissioner Marylin Mun said each case must be weighed separately.

"Take a good look at the information and see whether or not there is a value for public interest to disclose the information," she said.

"If there is and  if it is not an unreasonable invasion of privacy, they could look at ways of proactively disclosing the information."