Calgary Herald

Plenty of reasons to feel queasy over AHS compensati­on


Alberta Health Services has reported a modest surplus on its $13-billion budget. The health authority was left with $156 million last year by spending less than expected on items such as continuing care and support services.

“It won’t be money we just put in the bank and not use,” said new AHS CEO Vickie Kaminski, who suggested the surplus could fund more surgeries or improve electronic medical record technology.

It’s a pity AHS hasn’t been as thrifty when it comes to compensati­on for its executives. The superboard has long had a reputation for looking after its own better than it looks after taxpayers, and payouts disclosed in its 2013-14 financial statements do nothing to dispel that image.

Take the case of Mark Haley, who was employed by AHS from August until December 2013 in part as vice-president, people. (The documents show Haley only actually had that title from Sept. 12 to Oct. 22 — it’s not really clear what he did the rest of the time.)

Haley never reached an employment contract with AHS, according to Kaminski, but received $284,000 to cover all aspects of his compensati­on. That works out to a whopping $56,800 a month — money that also could have been used to fund more surgeries, just like the modest surplus can.

It’s little wonder Haley never reached a deal with AHS on his pay, not with this kind of money on the table. It’s more than Alison Redford earned as premier or Naheed Nenshi is paid to be mayor, at $218,000 and $202,000 respective­ly.

Then there’s Duncan Campbell, who was promoted from chief financial officer to acting CEO last October — a position he held for just one month. AHS said Campbell was returning to his previous job, but documents indicate that he ended up taking a paid leave of absence until the end of March, according to Edmonton Journal reporter Keith Gerein. So once again, the health authority — with a mandate to care for ailing Albertans — appears to have paid a top executive to sit at home for five months on the public dime. This too is money that would be better spent on patient care than on over-the-top compensati­on for those tasked with managing our health-care system.

“I presume that was the period where they were negotiatin­g what would happen to him next,” Kaminski said of Campbell’s paid time away from work.

And it gets worse. Campbell and AHS eventually agreed that he would move back to British Columbia, reports Gerein, where he is conducting a year-long research project for AHS and the Canadian Institute for Health Informatio­n. The $500,000 project will focus on different funding models for health services, a subject that’s been studied far more times than necessary.

“It’s an unusual situation and it’s not (a contract) I would have done,” Kaminski said. “But it was done before I got here. The work he is doing will be pretty useful to us in the long term.”

Kaminski only took over as CEO in June, so it’s to be hoped Albertans have seen the last of such nonsense.

“We have a much more reasonable compensati­on package, we have clearer work expectatio­ns, we have some guidelines around the kinds of contracts and what sorts of things will be agreed to,” said the CEO. “There are not going to be special deals or anything like that.”

Let’s hope she’s right, considerin­g that five VPs who lost their jobs due to restructur­ing split more than $2 million in severance last year. Albertans are deservedly tired of hearing of the excesses that continue to prevail at AHS.

 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada