AHS board dismisses Duckett
The chairman of Alberta Health Services Ken Hughes announced that CEO and President Dr. Stephen Duckett has been released from his position.
The announcement came Wednesday afternoon after the board met twice in the past 24 hours to discuss the fate of Duckett's career with AHS.
Hughes said both the 14-member board and Duckett jointly agreed that "now is the time to move on."
"We agreed with Dr. Duckett that he would no longer continue to stay on as the CEO because his ability to be effective in that role...we felt was compromised," said Hughes.
Hughes said Dr. Chris Eagle, the current Executive Vice President of Quality and Services improvement for Alberta Health Services, will now step in as the acting CEO.
The board will begin the process to recruit a new CEO.
Hughes said one board member, Gord Bontje from Red Deer, has already submitted his resignation. Hughes said he anticipates more resignations from members of the board in the near future. He would not elaborate as to why Bontje resigned from the board.
"I expect there will a couple more resignations, but I can tell you that the clear majority of the board has asked themselves hard questions and has determined they are prepared to soldier on, continue to work to make the changes, to make the commitment to Albertans."
The news comes after Duckett made headlines in Edmonton, Alberta and around the world after a 2-minute and 13-second exchange with reporters, including CTV, in which he refused to answer questions about health care reforms -- because he was eating a cookie.
Duckett apologized the next day via his blog, but still hasn't addressed the media directly.
Hughes said Duckett's unusual recent exchange with reporters was one element of his dismissal. The chairman said the board had full confidence in Duckett right up until last week's "cookie" incident.
Alberta Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky said he is in support of the board's decision.
And while some critics agree Duckett had to go, they still hold the Stelmach Government accountable.
"[The] real culprits are the premier, the former health minister who created this poor structure and the current minister who is unable to manage with it with it either," said Liberal Leader David Swann.
Hughes said Duckett will receive the terms of his severance as laid out in his contract.
Last year, Duckett made a total of $744,000, including $595,000 as a base salary and $76,619 in performance bonuses.
Duckett took over in March of 2009 as the CEO and President of AHS. Duckett had previously served as the deputy minister to the Australian equivalent of Health Canada.
Duckett is currently in the U.S. with family for the Thanksgiving holiday.
With files from Bill Fortier, Kevin Armstrong and Laura Tupper