ALBERTA

Alison Tonge, Health Executive, Had Private Health Services Paid For By Alberta Taxpayers

04/17/2013 07:02 EDT | Updated 04/17/2013 07:03 EDT
CP

EDMONTON - Alberta's official Opposition has brought forward documents that show a former health executive was allowed to get private tests at public expense.

Wildrose party Leader Danielle Smith told the house that Alison Tonge was reimbursed $1,160 for diagnostic tests at a private Edmonton clinic in December 2011.

This is the second claim in as many days coming to light charging that a government executive received private care at the expense of the taxpayer.

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On Tuesday, Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne said the province spent more than $7,000 in public funds in 2007 to send former health executive Michele Lahey to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for cancer followup care.

On Wednesday Smith noted the head of Alberta Health Services, Dr. Chris Eagle, approved the payments to Tonge in January 2012.

Horne said Eagle has told him the payments were above board and were part of Tonge's recruitment package tied to her immigration status.

Tonge has since left Alberta and works for the National Health Service in England.

Smith says the Tonge case, and similar cases of inappropriate spending, demand a full investigation of all health executive expenses.

Smith wasn't the only opposition politician attacking the Alberta Tories, as Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason questioned how it is that the government thinks it's alright for well-to-do, senior health executives to have their private health treatments paid for by working Albertans.

“To attempt to excuse this by claiming that these were immigration-related expenses or recruitment expenses is absolutely absurd,” said Mason.

“Ms. Tonge was receiving a generous salary from our public health care system, so the least she could have done was finance her private health care.

"The fact that the President of AHS and the Health Minister see absolutely nothing wrong with these expenses just makes it obvious that this government doesn’t even understand what’s wrong with allowing people to jump the queue because they’re wealthy or powerful.”

With files from The Canadian Press