Big payouts to health execs the cost of fixing system: health minister

Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne says while he, too, isn’t happy with large salary payouts to former executives, they were necessary to “right-size” the system.

EDMONTON — Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne says while he, too, isn’t happy with large salary payouts to former executives, they were necessary to “right-size” the system.

“Those types of contracts do not exist in AHS today,” Horne told reporters Friday.

“(But) we knew there was going to be a cost to people who would be departing the organization.

“Quite frankly I share the same view around some of those amounts — they’re very large amounts — but that was the cost of right-sizing the system.”

Horne said since then he’s instituted a transparent salary grid, with no hidden bonuses, in line with other comparable jobs in the public sector.

“We’ve delivered on what we said we’d do,” he said.

Horne’s comments were in response to the Alberta Health Services 2013-14 annual report that announced six and seven-figure deals reached with some departing executives.

David Megran, the chief medical officer of clinical operations, left with $730,000 in severance and a $1 million lump sum pension payment.

Bill Trafford, the former acting chief transformation officer, left with $391,000 in severance and pension payments of more than $11,000 per month for 10 years.

Former AHS financial officer Duncan Campbell was paid his annual salary of $425,000 even though he took a five-month leave of absence. He has since left the organization for British Columbia, but is being paid $500,000 to conduct a study on types of health funding models.

Some of these changes came after Horne directed last fall that AHS slim down its executive ranks.

AHS is a separate organization that handles day-to-day delivery of health care under the aegis of Horne’s Health Department.

Horne said some of the problems also stemmed from 2008, when the province dissolved the health regions into the current centralized AHS superboard.

“In the early years of AHS, there were some very large, generous contracts that were let out,” said Horne.

“And they were kind of all over the map. There was no classification system for senior executives.”

It’s been a tumultuous ride for AHS since, with frequent turnover in the executive suite.

Last June, Horne fired the entire board of AHS after it refused his directive to cancel $3.2 million in bonus payments to 99 senior executives.

Opposition critics have said it has been Horne’s interference in the AHS ranks that has led to the confusion, departures and big-ticket severance payments.

Was the transformation from regional boards to one superboard too much too quickly? Horne was asked.

“I think that’s probably part of it,” he said.

“AHS was created very, very quickly. There wasn’t a lot of consultation with the people who were going to be affected.

“We saw some things like executive compensation that really didn’t make a whole lot of sense and quite frankly offended Albertans.”

Just Posted

Eager-beaver cannabis entrepreneurs already waiting outside Red Deer City Hall

Appications will be accepted on a first-come basis starting on Tuesday

Like father like son: Red Deer area Dreeshen family dedicates life to public service

There are three jobs that could be considered the Dreeshen family business:… Continue reading

Restaurant owner concerned about Gasoline Alley road changes

Nearly 20 trucks were lined up on the service road in front… Continue reading

Preliminary hearings set for two men charged in weapons and drugs bust

A Red Deer man and Sylvan Lake man are facing 80 charges

Eight dogs found in Innisfail hotel room were kept in cages

Eight dogs, kept in cages in a small hotel room in Innisfail… Continue reading

WATCH: Hypnotizing show at Westerner Days

Hynotist and mentalist Joshua Seth performs three times a day at Westerner Days

PHOTOS: River Town Saints rock Red Deer

River Town Saints play Westerner Days Friday in Red Deer

PHOTOS: Dogs, horses and more animals at Westerner Days

Westerner Park’s pavilions were filled with animals during Westerner Days

Red Deer residents can’t get enough mini-doughnuts

Mini-doughnuts were the biggest draw to Westerner Days according to a Red… Continue reading

Four-car crash, including RCMP vehicle, on Highway 2

Two sheriff vehicles were also involved in the collision

Divers hunt for 4 after Missouri duck boat sinks, killing 13

BRANSON, Mo. — Divers are searching Friday for four people still missing… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer’s noxious weeds are a goat’s dietary delight

Piper Creek Community Garden gets chemical-free weed control

‘Amazing Race Canada’ competitors face B.C. challenge

They drove Corvettes, mastered falconry basics, and ate blueberry pie in the Cowichan Valley

From hot to not? The Baloney Meter weighs in on Scheer’s economy claims

OTTAWA — “Justin Trudeau inherited a booming economy, but he’s squandering it.… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month