Wildrose calling for Health Minister’s resignation over AHS expense scandal
Published Wednesday, August 8, 2012 5:34PM MDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 8, 2012 7:04PM MDT
In the wake of the departure of the Alberta Health Services CFO over extravagant spending, the opposition is calling for the current Health Minister to step down.
Last week, AHS CFO Allaudin Merali was released from his position after past extravagant expenses were revealed in a Freedom of Information and Privacy (FOIP) request, which also lead to the resignation of the AHS Board member who signed off on many of the expenses.
In a press conference, the Official Opposition Leader said this high-profile scandal has left Albertans to question the integrity of Health Minister Fred Horne.
Smith criticized his handling of the high-profile scandal, and said Horne had defended some of Merali’s expenses – including a $220 dinner Horne had shared with the former CFO.
“[He] faked outrage and claimed he was dumbfounded over the scandal,” Smith said. “Even though he also said prior to that that Merali’s expenses were above board in Capital Health.”
Other expenses included butler services, expensive bottles of wine, opera tickets and what appeared to be groceries – all charged to Capital Health between 2005 and 2008, and totaling nearly $350,000.
“On what planet do you have to be from to look at those kinds of expenses and think it’s reasonable for taxpayers to pay that,” Smith said. “If you figure you’re never going to get caught, or even if you do get caught there’s going to be no consequences, the attitude in this government has been ‘So what?’.”
As a result of the exposed expenses, AHS said the Auditor General had been asked to review the superboard’s policies and practices – and provide direction and advice on how they could be improved.
AHS officials are also pursuing a forensic audit of Merali’s expenses.
“Albertans have to know where their tax dollars are being spent,” Service Alberta spokesperson Gerald Kastendieck said. “So, this review by the Privacy Commissioner and an external human resources firm will help with that.”
The office of the Minister of Health said Horne wouldn’t respond to Smith’s comment.
CTV News attempted to speak to Accountability Minister Don Scott, and Premier Alison Redford as well, however neither was available for comment.
With files from Serena Mah