Ken Hughes, the chair of the new Alberta Health Services Board, doesn’t dance around the issue of health care costs in this province. He says the old structure of nine regional boards, and three health care organizations, didn’t look after taxpayer money as well as they should.
“Resources weren’t always deployed in the most effective manner,” he says, “because there was duplication between regions. And the regions didn’t collaborate as well as they might have.”
Hughes and the new ABHS board officially take over from the former group of nine on April 1, and they’ll inherit a provincial system costing $14 billion dollars a year. There’s also a looming deficit, this year, of more than a billion.
“We’ll be looking for ways to eliminate waste in the Alberta health care system,” says Hughes. “We don’t need seven payroll systems, as one example. We need to procure services and equipment, and assets, and the resources needed for health care way more effectively.”
Hughes and the new board members will not, however, directly criticize the old regime, and its leaders. Jack Davis, the former chair of the Calgary Health Region, lost his job last year, but still walked away with a million dollar plus severance package, and a yearly pension of $270 thousand dollars.