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AHS predicts cash flow could soon run out
Published Wednesday, December 2, 2009 12:33PM MST
Alberta Health Services (AHS) could run out of money before the end of the fiscal year, leaving the province on the hook to fix the financial mess.
The cash-flow problems were made clear after a document was posted online.
Health officials stated that the province is strapped for cash while making a recent presentation to B.C. colleagues.
In the leaked document, AHS refers to itself as the Great Alberta Experiment, and even compared itself to the struggling automaker General Motors. The document goes on to suggest the health board could not only run out of cash by February, but could also run another massive debt up to a billion dollars in 2011.
"When you spend next month's pay cheque on this month's groceries then you're going to run out of cash," said Health Minister Ron Liepert.
Critics now fear the cash problem could fuel more health care cuts. In recent months, the province has slashed MRIs at some hospitals, and on Monday, rumours swirled that food at a Stony Plain senior's complex was being rationed.
One expert says health services will start to deteriorate as health officials try to save $900 million a year in costs.
Finance Minister Iris Evans warns that AHS shouldn't count on a bailout from the province.
"We really don't know that until year end. I mean the volatility of our economy means we have to be careful and cautious about committing dollars before we've got them in the bank," said Evans.
If AHS does end up spending its entire budget by February, the province will have to find the money to help out. The province says it isn't going to let health services be greatly affected by a short-term issue.
With files from Scott Roberts