ALBERTA

Sheila Weatherill Pays Back Michele Lahey's Health Trip, Originally Expensed To Taxpayers

04/18/2013 04:07 EDT | Updated 06/18/2013 05:12 EDT
CP/ Sean Kilpatrick
EDMONTON - A former Alberta health official who signed off on private care for a colleague at public expense has repaid the money.

And the government opposition is now calling on the province to re-open the recently completed health queue-jumping inquiry.

Sheila Weatherill, the former CEO of Edmonton's Capital Health Region, has notified the province by letter and sent in a cheque for $7,800.

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Healthcare Queue Jumping in Alberta and B.C.

The money will cover the funds paid for Michele Lahey, who was a Capital Health vice-president at the time, to get a cancer check-up at the prestigious private Mayo Clinic in Minnesota in 2007.

In the letter, Weatherill says she signed off on the money in error, but doesn't say how or why.

"As CEO at the time, I take responsibility for this extraordinary event and I apologize to the people of Alberta," she said.

Lahey has said it was Weatherill's idea to send her to the Mayo.

Weatherill says that's wrong, but she doesn't offer her side of the story.

Health Minister Fred Horne is seeking legal advice to determine if the province can keep the funds, Global News reports.

On Wednesday, it was revealed that Alison Tonge, another health executive, was also reimbursed $1,160 for diagnostic tests at a private Edmonton clinic in 2011.

Alberta opposition leader Danielle Smith is calling on the province to re-open the queue-jumping health inquiry in light of the expenses.

“The facts we have uncovered this week certainly warrant a much deeper look into just how widespread these instances of queue jumping actually are,” Smith said.

With files from The Canadian Press