Former Capital Health CEO to pay back money expensed by executive in 2007
In 2009, Alberta Health Services’ Sheila Weatherill served as an independent investigator. This archive photo shows her listening during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 21, 2009., regarding her report of the 2008 listeriosis outbreak. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Published Thursday, April 18, 2013 2:36PM MDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 18, 2013 6:18PM MDT
In a letter sent to Health Minister Fred Horne, the former head of Capital Health has admitted her role in approving an out-of-country assessment for another Capital Health executive was inappropriate, and she will pay back the funds.
“Ms. Weatherill has written to me and indicated the payment was an error, should not have been made,” Horne said. “She’s taken responsibility for it, for which I thank her, and she’s repaid the money to the government.”
The letter, dated Thursday, April 18, comes days after the Wildrose Party released expense documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request, outlining expenses incurred by Capital Health Executive Vice President and COO Michelle Lahey for a trip she took in January, 2007.
The released documents showed Lahey racked up a total $7,225.30 for accommodation, ground travel, food and medical testing at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
CTV News later learned Lahey went to the clinic for a second screening, after she had been cleared of cancer by Alberta doctors.
In documents included in the FOIP request, a note is enclosed from Lahey to then-CEO Weatherill, saying she had said in the past Capital Health would reimburse her for the expenses.
On Tuesday, Horne condemned the trip, and said he was “disappointed to hear about it” and he could “understand why Albertans would be offended.”
Although the Wildrose demanded the government pay back the money to taxpayers, Horne said earlier this week that lawyers told him that would not be possible.
On Thursday, Horne said he had retained Justice Allan Wachowich to prepare a report on whether any other expenses incurred by former health authority officials at the expense of taxpayers need to be paid back or recovered from former executives, and what steps the government would have to take to do so.
“I’ve asked him to look into what options, if any, to recover improper expense payments to either former health authority employees or current employees,” Horne said.
There is no timeline in place for the report.
However, Horne believes the matter is isolated, and told reporters Thursday that he doesn’t think there are more similar incidents.
A spokesperson with the Ministry of Health told CTV News the cheque for $7,800 – which Weatherill said in her letter covered the expenses and inflation since the trip – was being couriered to the ministry’s offices.
The personal cheque arrived late Thursday afternoon.
With files from Susan Amerongen