Alberta Minister of Finance Doug Horner speaks to the media outside his office at the Alberta Legislature, Thursday Aug. 2, 2012. Horner was speaking about the firing of Alberta Health Services chief financial officer and executive vice-president Allaudin Merali.
Credits: DAVID BLOOM/EDMONTON SUN/QMI AGENCY
Friends of Medicare executive director Sandra Azocar said the long list of expenses Merali compiled between 2005 and 2008 -- on items including food, liquor and repairs for his Mercedes Benz -- shows the government lacks control over its executive management.
"We were outraged at the fact that they're living large at the taxpayer's expense, and it's basically shameful," Azocar said.
The situation smacks of a lack of respect for front-line health workers, she said, adding doctors, nurses and patients are the ones most negatively impacted by funding shortfalls.
"The health care system has a serious lack of staff -- $350,000 could hire two or three nurses a year.
"When you look at how we're paying for somebody to get his Mercedes Benz fixed as opposed to having more staff in the emergency room so that people don't have to wait as long, then you know that there is a problem in terms of priorities
"Obviously there's not a lack of funding, it's just being put into the wrong place."
Azocar noted $346,000 could have gone a long way toward saving a facility like Little Bow Continuing Care Centre in the Southern Alberta village of Carmangay -- population 250.
Alberta Health Services plans to close Little Bow due partially to a supposed lack of funds needed for upgrades.
"That's a long-term care facility that's needed for that community," Azocar said.
"If it's closed, the community will suffer because that's the only employer in the community, and that money could have easily gone to alleviate that problem."
Merali resigned as Alberta Health Services Chief Financial Officer last week after his expense bills went public.