No criminal investigation in health care queue-jumping claims: RCMP

EDMONTON — The RCMP says it found only anecdotes, stories and rumours when it looked into allegations of queue-jumping in Alberta’s health-care system.

EDMONTON — The RCMP says it found only anecdotes, stories and rumours when it looked into allegations of queue-jumping in Alberta’s health-care system.

As a result, a decision was made not to pursue a full-fledged criminal investigation into the claims, which dominated the last session of the Alberta legislature and led to calls for a public inquiry.

“We were not able to substantiate even a single specific incident of queue-jumping,” Sgt. Patrick Webb said Wednesday. “People talked about it, but no one was able to provide specifics that this actually happened.

“Anecdotal stories, rumours, are not enough to justify a criminal investigation, criminal charges and court proceedings.”

New Democrat Leader Brian Mason had asked police to look into the matter after former Alberta Health Services CEO Stephen Duckett said queue-jumping was going on when he took over in 2009.

Duckett said in a speech in Toronto in June that he had to put a stop to politicians having go-to people in health regions who could facilitate faster care for friends, family and supporters.

Mason was on holidays Wednesday, but put out a statement reacting to the RCMP’s decision.

“I’m disappointed by the news that there has not been enough evidence presented to this point to proceed with a criminal investigation into queue-jumping,” he said. “Unless someone steps forward with more specific evidence, we will let the case rest.”

Premier Ed Stelmach and Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky have always dismissed Duckett’s allegations.

But they surfaced at a time when the government was under fire from a former member of its own caucus. Raj Sherman, who is also an emergency room doctor, stood in the legislature and alleged doctors were intimidated by senior health staff into keeping quiet about health-care concerns. Sherman is now running to be leader of the Alberta Liberals.

The government has rebuffed opposition calls for a public inquiry into health care and instead assigned the province’s Health Quality Council to look into intimidation claims.