Surprise, surprise, AHS is in the news

Alberta Health Services is once again in the news and, no, it’s not for something like reducing patient wait times or increasing efficiency.

Alberta Health Services is once again in the news and, no, it’s not for something like reducing patient wait times or increasing efficiency. And Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP government is again facing controversy over an accusation of amateurish behaviour.

The CBC reported last week that former AHS CEO Vickie Kaminski resigned because of “political interference” from NDP Health minister Sarah Hoffman and that the interference was “rooted in an ideology of the new government.” The Opposition Wildrose went steps further than the CBC, stating Kaminski’s resignation letter was never released by the NDP in full; only an edited version was released that stated something to the effect “Sorry to leave, it’s been great, see you at the water cooler.”

Global News reported, “Kaminski’s Nov. 25, 2015 letter obtained exclusively by CBC News suggested she could no longer independently do her job as political interference worsened under the NDP, and specifically named Health minister Sarah Hoffman.”

“Many Albertans are already worried that the NDP government is focused more on ideology instead of outcomes, but today many more feel that the NDP can no longer be trusted to manage the health care system,” Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said in a press release. “The NDP should release the full details of this letter to Albertans and explain their actions.”

Of course, Hoffman immediately denied any wrongdoing but one telling omission seems to suggest otherwise: Kaminski’s full letter of resignation, as of this writing, has still not been released. Releasing the full letter would certainly back up Hoffman’s version of the story that Kaminski’s resignation was her own decision and had nothing to do with one of Alberta’s political parties trying to tell AHS how to steer its ship. If there’s nothing damaging to the NDP government, why keep the letter secret?

As an aside, Kaminski’s resignation was a shame and a blow to Albertans who’ve watched AHS flounder in waste and controversy, such as executives claiming thousands of dollars in expenses that were not justified while the arms-length organization faces escalating costs. Kaminski was previously a front-line nurse and a health region CEO, and very savvy with this province’s healthcare system.

Another aside is that interim AHS CEO Linda Hughes released an “everything is fine, just fine” statement that should come as no surprise to anyone. AHS’ questionable public relations skill has been on display before (former CEO Stephen Duckett shoving a cookie into a journalist’s face, screeching “My cookie! My cookie!” the entire time), but anyone expecting a government department, board, commission or agency of any kind actually criticizing the NDP government obviously hasn’t been paying attention to the never-ending flood of patronage appointments (Bob Hawksworth), favoritism (hiring of former Alberta Union of Provincial Employees negotiator Kevin Davediuk as the province’s top negotiator with unions) or gaffes (Rebel Media journalist being almost arrested by Legislature sherrifs on NDP orders) is living in a dream world.

The situation suggests two things: Notley needs to get a better breed of public relations advisor, and the ministers and MLAs in the ruling NDP government need to take a “how to represent the people of Alberta” course.

Notley’s government is starting to develop an odor similar to previous Premier Alison Redford’s. It’s called the “We can do no wrong, so don’t mention our mistakes” aroma.

That aroma is quite telling. And, in a province chock full of bulls and cows, the provincial government’s odor is starting to smell a lot like cow patties.

 

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