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Wednesday, 08 August 2012 11:19

AHS is gov’t whether Tories like it or not

Written by  Rose Sanchez
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There’s a pattern emerging with the Alberta government. Officials with the ruling Tories seem to want to wash their hands of anything Alberta Health Services (AHS) is doing.


Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne has made numerous comments the past few weeks involving the closing of a seniors’ facility in Carmangay as well as the “departure” of the Chief Financial Officer for AHS. As the man responsible for overseeing all areas of health in Alberta, Horne needs to comment, but too often he refers to AHS as its own entity separate from government.
We’d like to respectfully disagree with this viewpoint. While government officials find it convenient to keep AHS and government at arm’s length, they shouldn’t be. It clearly states on Alberta Health’s website: “Health services in Alberta are delivered by Alberta Health Services.”
The key word here is “delivered.”
Also on the government’s website it states: “Alberta Health is the ministry that sets policy, legislation and standards for the health system in Alberta. The ministry allocates health funding ...”
AHS on the bottom of every news release states: “Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services ... in Alberta.”
How does AHS accomplish its mission of providing a “patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans?”
It does ... with funding from Alberta Health.
Government should not provide the funding to an organization and then wash its hands of how that money is being spent. Government officials, especially the Minister of Health, need to know how those taxpayers’ dollars are being used and they can’t just rely on what they are hearing from AHS officials.
Who is best to know if the health system is operating most effectively and efficiently?
Its customers.
Those people who are receiving, and even those supplying the services, are the ones who know whether AHS is meeting its mission.

Horne, especially when it comes to the closure of the Little Bow Continuing Care Centre in Carmangay, has only been listening to AHS officials.
Taxpayers — and don’t forget these are also voters — are getting tired of not being heard.
Government can’t make up its mind who is the boss of health-care in this province.
Just as the taxpayers are the bosses of elected officials, the government is the boss of AHS. The responsibility for AHS actions — whether right or wrong — falls directly into the lap of government. It’s time for the ruling Tories to be accountable.
Rose Sanchez is assistant managing editor of the Prairie Post. Contact her with comments about this opinion piece at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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