Instability in our health care leadership is the last thing Albertans need

April 4, 2022
EDMONTON

Instability in our health care leadership is the last thing Albertans need

Friends of Medicare deeply concerned that Dr. Yiu’s removal precedes the acceleration of the government’s privatization agenda

This morning, Alberta Health Services (AHS) announced the removal of Dr. Verna Yiu from her role as president and CEO. CTV News has since confirmed she was fired. There was a year left in Dr. Yiu’s contract, and the board did not offer any reason for her removal. 

“AHS has responded remarkably in the face of this unprecedented health care crisis. Under Dr. Yiu, Alberta’s temporary ICU capacity more than doubled, even while the government allowed COVID-19 to spread unchecked,” said Chris Gallaway, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare. “Dr. Yiu was often the only one who Albertans could count on to answer a question in a direct and straightforward way at a government press conference, calling into question the timing and reasoning for her early removal.”

Since its creation in 2008, Alberta Health Services has been tasked with delivering health care to the 4.37 million people in this province. As per their mandate, AHS is ‘subject to the direction of, and the resources provided by, the Minister of Health.’ Ultimately, the policies and decisions that guide the delivery of our health care system sit squarely in the hands of the government of the day.

“Using AHS or its leadership as a scapegoat for the government’s political failings has long served as a convenient means of deflection, and it’s safe to say we are seeing that again now,” said Gallaway. “In the face of so many ongoing, unprecedented challenges in our health care, the last thing we need is more instability. The least the government could do is show some accountability and transparency when it comes to the leadership of our vital public health care system.”

In 2021, Albertans saw the troubling political appointments of two AHS board members: Hartley R. Harris, CFO for Tyler Shandro’s 2019 campaign, and Jack Mintz, an avid proponent of the privatization of our health care. 

“AHS is under an interim president and CEO while the Board’s process of searching for a replacement is underway,” said Gallaway. “We are concerned that this will be used as an opportunity for the appointment of a leader who will more readily support the acceleration of the government’s privatization agenda. We will be watching closely as we await the announcement of AHS’ new president and CEO.”

In his response to the announcement of Dr. Yiu's removal, Health Minister Jason Copping said: “It’s time to move forward with an ambitious agenda to improve and modernize the health system and renewed leadership in Alberta Health Services will support delivering those changes.”

“What we’re hearing from the Minister is classic privatizer double-speak,” said Gallaway. “The UCP government has made it clear that they intend to privatize more of our public health care, but what we urgently need from our leadership is a commitment to protect, strengthen and rebuild our public health care system. Albertans deserve better than further privatization.”

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