Alberta health Minister Fred Horne speaks to the media on the 146 claims totaled $346,208 made by Allaudin Merali,executive vice-president and chief financial officer of AHS. Edmonton, Alberta on August, 1 2012.
Credits: PERRY MAH/QMI AGENCY
EDMONTON -- The Opposition is calling on Alberta's premier to punt her health minister over the health expense scandal.
Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith called the $350,000 expense debacle the "exclamation point" on Fred Horne's 10-month term as health minister.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) CFO Allaudin Merali -- a longtime staffer at the auditor general's office and then CFO for AHS forerunner Capital Health Authority (CHA) -- reportedly ran up $346,000 in often-luxurious expenses at CHA from 2005 to 2008 and then was part of an expense flap at Ontario's eHealth prior to returning to Alberta.
"On (Horne's) watch," Smith said, "we have seniors being forced out of long-term care centres, seniors being force-fed inedible mush, a do-nothing public health-care inquiry -- and now, one of the most egregious taxpayer ripoffs we've ever seen.
"Redford should immediately relieve him as health minister and get on with the monumental task of restoring Albertans' confidence in the public health-care system."
Horne announced Monday that Merali's severance pay will be withheld and has appointed a forensic auditor to investigate the contentious expenses.
In March 2005, Merali expensed $220 for a single meal with Horne, then a health-care consultant for the province. Horne has said he can't recall the occasion -- and there is no explanation on Merali's expense detail.