Edmonton

Stephen Lougheed out as CEO of Alberta Innovates - Technology Futures

The house cleaning continues at Alberta Innovates with the termination of Stephen Lougheed, the last of its four chief executive officers.

Government continues consolidation of Alberta Innovates

The four branches of Alberta Innovates - Technology Futures, Bio Solutions, Health Solutions, and Energy and Environmental Solutions - formerly governed by four boards will be overseen by a single board. (Blanchett Neon)

The house cleaning continues at Alberta Innovates with the termination of Stephen Lougheed, the last of its four chief executive officers.

Alberta Innovates chair Judy Fairburn today announced Lougheed's departure, effective immediately, as the government-funded research and development corporation continues its consolidation to one organization from four branches.

Lougheed, the son of former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed, was the president and chief executive officer of Alberta Innovates - Technology Futures (AITF). He will receive $382,968 in severance.

Corey Fries is now the acting CEO of AITF, joining three other acting CEOs, all of whom will be phased out and replaced with one CEO for the entire organization. A recruitment firm has been hired to conduct a search for a new CEO to lead Alberta Innovates and its nearly 600 employees.

The four branches of Alberta Innovates - Technology Futures, Bio Solutions, Health Solutions, and Energy and Environmental Solutions — had been governed by four separate boards. Those also have been consolidated into a single board.  

The NDP government, in its April budget, said the four corporations would be consolidated to "strengthen oversight of the research and innovation system, improve accountability, and identify opportunities for collaboration."

High salaries

In May 2015, CBC News revealed extraordinary salaries at several publicly funded agencies, including Alberta Innovates. Annual reports showed the CEOs of Alberta Innovates' four branches each received between $338,000 and $479,000 annually in total compensation.

Six executives at Alberta Innovates - Bio Solutions earned total compensation of between $154,000 and $242,000. Seven executives at Alberta Innovates - Technology Futures were paid a total of between $272,000 and $364,000.

Newly appointed Alberta Innovates board chair Judy Fairburn said those kinds of salaries, and the number of those salaries, are in the past.

"One of the first steps that we have done — and it's been leading up to this — is to streamline governance," said Fairburn, who is a vice-president with Cenovus in Calgary. "So in the public record, you will have seen the 2014-15 listing of executives and their salaries. Since that time, we are now down seven executives. And so we are really streamlining governance. And so you are seeing that we are on the path to the savings, in streamlining the governance, that has been promised through this."

Through freedom of information, CBC News also obtained expenses claimed by some Alberta Innovates executives.

One receipt from the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel details a lavish meal for former Alberta Innovates - Technology Futures CEO Gary Albach and Lougheed, who was then a board member, along with fellow board members Tom Corr, Amit Monga and Ken McKinnon, and unidentified board members of the Alberta Enterprise Corp., a venture-capital fund owned by the Alberta government.

The receipt shows the meal started with martinis and single-malt scotch. During the meal of bison, prime rib and halibut, the board members enjoyed nearly $450 worth of wine, including two cabernets at $140 a bottle.

Fairburn said Alberta Innovates executives are no longer allowed to expense alcohol, and expenses, generally, are being closely monitored.

The government is now undertaking a review of hundreds of agencies, boards and commissions, or ABCs, to cut costs and eliminate duplication. These ABCs, which include the Workers' Compensation Board and the Alberta Energy Regulator, spend nearly half of the provincial budget.

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