01/11/2013 15:44 EST | Updated 03/13/2013 05:12 EDT

Former chair of AHS denies knowledge of queue-jumping

The former chair of Alberta Health Services, Ken Hughes, told a public inquiry that he had no knowledge of anyone getting preferential access to health care.

Hughes told the inquiry into queue-jumping that he was upset when he learned members of the Calgary Flames and their families avoided long line-ups for the H-1-N-1 flu shot in 2009.

“There was an appearance of favouritism to one group and I was deeply offended by that and I think most Albertans were deeply offended by that.”

Hughes said he knew nothing of the arrangements.

“At the time, I had no awareness of the allegations and I would say categorically that in no way were we involved. I had no knowledge or conversations with anyone with respect to the Flames. "

Two AHS employees lost their jobs for providing special access for the hockey players.

However, Hughes said while the incident went against the organization’s values, he did not consider it an example of queue-jumping.

Hughes chaired the Alberta Health Services board from 2008 until 2011. He is now Alberta’s energy minister and he testified before the inquiry in Calgary on Friday.

Earlier, the inquiry heard from a Calgary Flames doctor, Jim Thorne, who said the players were willing to wait in line for the vaccination. However, Thorne said he was concerned about their security and privacy and he said flagged those concerns with a public health nurse he knew.

Alberta Health Services arranged to get the vaccine delivered to a private clinic where players, their families team officials, and even members of the media who travel with the Flames received the flu shot.

Ken Hughes also told the inquiry that unlike the former chair of Edmonton’s Capital Health, Sheila Weatherill, he did not make calls to senior hospital officials to alert them to the presence of important people in their facilities.

Weatherill testified earlier in the inquiry.

“I did not have time in my day to make calls like that, nor would I have,” said Hughes.

Health minister testimony

Alberta's health minister said he has no direct knowledge of people getting preferential access to health care.

Fred Horne testified Thursday, but like many other witnesses at this public inquiry, he was not able to provide any information about anyone getting special access to health care.

The inquiry was established following a promise by Premier Alison Redford to get to the bottom of allegations of queue-jumping in the wait for health services in Alberta.