08/03/2012 12:54 EDT

Sheila Weatherill Resignation: Alberta Health Services Board Member Latest Spending Scandal Casualty


Alberta Health Services board member Sheila Weatherill has become the latest casualty in a provincial spending scandal that has already claimed Chief Financial Officer Allaudin Merali.

Weatherill was Health Capital Region CEO during the time when Merali -- who until this week was the chief financial officer of the financially-strapped Alberta Health Services - put nearly $350,000 on the taxpayers' tab over a three-year-period, the Star reported.

Alberta health minister Fred Horne announced on Thursday he had accepted Weatherill's resignation, the day after Merali left the government office, the Edmonton Journal said.

The National Post reported that Weatherill offered to resign after Merali's extravagant expenses between 2005 and 2008 came to light, showing he'd spent nearly $350,000 of taxpayers' money to pay for repairs to his Mercedes Benz and two pay for $30-per-hour butlers.

Weatherill had approved the expenditures, the CBC said.

In her resignation letter, which was published by the CBC, Weatherill attempted to address the scandal by saying, "I recognize questions have arisen about expenses, but I would like to clarify that Capital Health had appropriate expenditure policies that were consistent with other public sector organizations," she wrote.

This is not the first time Merali has run afoul in terms of expenses. He made headlines in Ontario where he expensed to EHealth Ontario teas, muffins and parking fees while making $2,700 per day, topped up with a $75 per diem. It's also been reported that Merali expensed to Ontario residents approximately $21,000 in flights to and from Edmonton.

Horne said he was "dumbfounded" by the facts.

“With respect to hiring practices, I’m as much dumbfounded by this as anyone else,” Horne told the Calgary Herald Thursday.

“I want to know what the board knew and what oversight the board provided with respect to this particular hiring, and I intend to find out.”