Sherman's allegations are a dead issue without any proof: Premier
Published Tuesday, March 8, 2011 6:17PM MST
Premier Ed Stelmach thinks independent MLA Dr. Raj Sherman's allegations about cancer care coverups in Alberta and reports of doctors being paid to keep quiet are a dead issue without any proof to back them up. Stelmach says the integrity of the entire house has deteriorated since Sherman brought the allegations forward.
He says this has gone on long enough, and without proof of the alleged hush-money, the allegations should be put to rest.
"They are completely unproven. I'm not going to start a wild goose chase chasing around with another investigation that is being internally done," said Stelmach.
A day earlier, Sherman had vowed to support those claims by tabling documents. But the documents he brought forward during question period Monday afternoon, failed to provide proof of his allegations.
Last week, Sherman alleged in the early years of the last decade, hundreds of Albertans died while waiting for cancer surgery. He told the house doctors who raised concerns over the issues were punished, driven out of the province, or paid to stay quiet. Sherman says one example of the payouts is when doctors are offered severance and forced to sign non-disclosure agreements.
Sherman initially said he planned to table documents pertaining to 322 cases in which he says health care was compromised. But the documents he tabled during question period do not refer to his allegations, but tell the story of emergency room nightmares, mostly in 2008, and are already under an internal investigation.
He made a point of saying these documents tell stories of those who have suffered, not died, because of the province's healthcare system.
Sherman says despite not providing proof to his claims, he felt it was his duty to bring it up in the house.
"I'm a legislator. I became aware of something that was very sinister," he said.
Sherman says the Health Quality Council of Alberta is ready and willing to investigate.
And when asked if the investigation would include the so-called hush-money, Sherman says "John Cowell told me he will guarantee immunity to the doctors, the staff and ensure patient confidentiality," said Sherman.
The president and CEO of the Health Quality Council of Alberta confirms speaking to Sherman, but says the organization investigates health care cases only.
Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky says there is currently no need for another review, unless he sees some proof to do so.
Sherman maintains he has the proof.
"I have the name of the physicians and the administrators and the lawyers who know about this, let's open them to a public investigation," he said.
The government re-affirms if there is evidence presented, it will investigate.
With files from Kevin Armstrong