Alberta Health Services’ new top administrator Janet Davidson speaks to the media on her new appointment during a news conference at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta Thursday, June 14 , 2013
Credits: Perry Mah/Edmonton Sun/QMIAgency
EDMONTON -- The performance bonuses behind the termination of the Alberta Health Services board will be paid out after all -- and NDP Leader Bryan Mason says confidence in Health Minister Fred Horne will surely take a hit.
The 10-member AHS board was axed June 12 after they voted to award $3.2 million in bonuses to 99 health executives as per their 2012-2013 contracts.
Horne ordered them not to dish out the millions in “pay at risk” funds because it was inappropriate to dish out bonuses at a time when the government was faced with such difficult fiscal decisions.
He appointed interim administrator Janet Davidson, who determined that the province had no legal right to deny the payouts.
Mason said the fact that Davidson came to the same conclusion as the board did, makes him wonder if the payouts were just an excuse to fire the board.
“It looks to me like he just wanted to fire the board. I don’t know what he’s doing, he fires the board for doing something that’s illegal, that he knows they can’t do. Then he comes back and says oops, we can’t do that,” he said.
“I don’t know what’s going on with Fred Horne right now. This cannot add to the confidence to Albertans of whether or not the government can take care of our health-care system,” he said.
But Horne said Saturday the fact that the bonuses are to be paid out anyway is “besides the point,” because they defied government orders.
“The AHS board was terminated because they defied directives from the minister of health,” he said.
“They were directed to reconsider, they did not reconsider in my view, instead they finalized decisions, closed the door on the issue.”
He added that when the board was terminated, he was unsure if the province was legally obligated to pay the execs, which is why Davidson was assigned the task.
She also determined that the employees had a contractual right to refuse the pay at risk.
A number of employees exercised that right, but were denied that option by the board, Horne said.
“So, I’m going to give that option, the former board had closed that door, but we’re opening that back up,” he said.
“In the future going forward, there will be no pay at risk, no bonuses.”