Health care dollars should be spent on services, not wining and dining

Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare, issued the following statement regarding the CBC's release today of new information on expenses of former Capital Health executives:

"Today the CBC released the expense records for former Capital Health executive secretary Leila Shwed. The lengthy 553-page document detailed the expenses Shwed charged on her corporate credit card between November 2004 and September 2008 on behalf of former Capital Health chief executive officer Sheila Weatherill, board chair Neil Wilkinson, and several former board members.

It took two years to have that information released to the public and Mr. Wilkinson continues to fight to keep his own expenses from being made public. After the dismantling of Capital Health in 2008, Mr. Wilkinson became the Alberta Ethics Commissioner, a position which he held until earlier this year.

The documents released detail thousands of our health care dollars wasted on fine dining, symphony tickets, ballet tickets, Tory fundraisers, Edmonton Eskimos tickets, designer leather portfolios, a bracelet purchased at Holt Renfrew, weekends at the Jasper Park Lodge, rounds of golf for Mr. Wilkinson, and the list goes on.

How do they explain this misuse of public funds to children who could not get their surgeries as there are no post-operative beds available at the Stollery Children's Hospital? Beds lay empty but Alberta Health Services won't hire more front-line staff. How does one explain this sense of entitlement to the seniors who are sitting in hospital beds, unnecessarily suffering, when health care executives are spending their weekends in Jasper?

Yes, the government has heard these concerns before, and yes to much media fanfare they have made announcements of the changes in their accountability and transparency protocols. But the fact remains that there have been years of lack of oversight and turning a blind eye to this PC culture of entitlement.  

As taxpayers and citizens we demand the best value for our dollar, and we won't get that until this government invests in the front lines, learns from its past gross mismanagement of our health care system, and moves forward with an agenda in the interests of all Albertans and not just a few Tory supporters and insiders."


Click here to read CBC's story (includes details on the expenses).