The beginning of a slow news week, the rantings of an angry fall-guy, or the first tremor of an earthquake that could shake the foundation of a 40-year political dynasty?
As reported by CBC, former Alberta Health Services CEO and President Stephen Duckett told the audience at a May 5 conference in Toronto that some of his predecessor CEOs under the old Regional Health Authorities “had designated ‘go-to guys’ for discrete waiting list adjustments on request from MLAs.”
If true, this is a bombshell that would unleash upon each Tory MLA the wrath and fury of every Albertan who has ever had to watch a loved one suffer in pain while waiting in queue for a medical procedure. Accusations like this would cause parties in most jurisdictions to easily lose elections, in Alberta it could awaken an electorate that has supported the PC Party for nearly 40 years.
Dr. Duckett served as President and CEO of AHS from March 2009 until November 2010, he became a liability for his political masters after a turbulent fall session of the Assembly. He was unceremoniously dumped after spending 2 minutes refusing to answer media questions while eating a cookie.
With his recent employment history still fresh in our minds, no one should doubt that Dr. Duckett has an axe to grind with his former political masters, but taking into account that grain of salt, we should not immediately discount his words.
Are these allegations true? An Alberta Health spokesperson’s response to CBC was telling: “[Dr. Duckett made] vague allegations about what may or may not have occurred in the past.” Dr. Duckett did not provide the names of the CEOs, MLAs, or “go-to-guys” involved in arranging the alleged queue jumping, but as the week continues I imagine that the tiny spotlight shone by CBC today will grow wider into a spotlight of political commentary and intrigue.
UDPATE: The Edmonton Journal’s Karen Kleiss posted this June 11, 2009 memo from Dr. Duckett to the executives of the then newly created Alberta Health Services in regards to requests for expedited care.
Duckett Memo on Expedited Care