ALBERTA

Auditor's Report On Alberta Health Spending Sparks Criticism

02/12/2013 09:28 EST | Updated 02/13/2013 04:56 EST
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The millions of dollars in what's been described as less-than-prudent spending on the part of the AHS and brought to light by an Alberta's auditor general report on Tuesday is proof of the PC government's mismanagement of the province, critics charged.

Merwan Saher's audit, done over 17 months ending last August, found that $100 million was spent on travel, hosting, moving and other purchasing by Alberta Health Services, and someone must be held to account and that someone is the PC government, Wildrose Health Critic Heather Forsyth said.

“The sense of entitlement within AHS and this PC government is shocking,” Wildrose Health Critic Heather Forsyth said. “There needs to be accountability from AHS bureaucrats to patients and front-line workers who hold the entire health care system together.”

The Auditor General pointed to insufficient controls on spending, including problems with financial reporting from many of Alberta’s post-secondary institutions and a potential problem in the government’s own fiscal updates, said NDP Brian Mason.

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“This government likes to duck from accountability for the way that it’s managed the province’s money, whether that’s blaming the differential for their deficit, or blaming nurses and doctors for health care costs,” said Mason.

“This report shows, yet again, that the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of the PCs. They need to be more accountable to Albertans about the way that they spend our money.”

Saher said Alberta taxpayers have been paying for health bureaucrats to take $1,200 short-hop flights, shelling out up to $300 at a time to shuttle patients around in taxis and covering one health employee's costs to buzz about in a private plane.

Wildrose Finance Critic Rob Anderson said as talk of the province taking on debt and fears of higher taxes swell, it's more important than ever for the government to be transparent in all manners of funding and expenditure.

“This government’s wasteful spending, mismanagement and inability to prioritize has led to six straight deficit budgets," he said.

An earlier version of this story said the AG report found millions in shady spending. Although some of his findings are of a questionable nature, much of his concern lies with what he alleges is bad management of funds.

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With files from the Canadian Press