AHS paid out about $3M in executive bonuses

AHS CEO Dr. Chris Eagle, Health Minister Fred Horne, and AHS Administrator Janet Davidson, September 10, 2013.
AHS CEO Dr. Chris Eagle, Health Minister Fred Horne, and AHS Administrator Janet Davidson, September 10, 2013. Vassy Kapelos, Global News

EDMONTON – Alberta Health Services (AHS) paid out about $3 million in pay-at-risk for executives and senior managers in 2012-2013.

AHS confirms only one executive decided to voluntarily return the controversial bonus.

The name of that employee and the amount they returned has not been made public. However, AHS says the person was not a senior executive.

The payout is a portion of the employees’ salaries which is paid if they meet certain targets at year’s end.

Last year Health Minister Fred Horne urged senior AHS executives to forgo the bonuses.

“I will make no secret of the fact I am disappointed that more of those senior executives did not see their way clear to avoid receipt of the pay-at-risk component,” said Horne during Wednesday’s Question Period. “But… the fact is Mr. Speaker that today, because of this premier, there is no more pay-at-risk at Alberta Health Services, there has been significant reform with respect to travel and hospitality and other expenses.”

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However, Wildrose health critic Heather Forsyth isn’t convinced enough has changed.

“He said there’s going to be no bonuses next year, but you see Dr. Eagle right now has stepped down from his position, is still getting his CEO salary, buried in the health care system for the next year, we’re missing 80 vice presidents – trying to figure out where they are. Are they in the system somewhere still collecting their salaries? It’s just truly a gong show.”

“I mean truly, the dollars have to get down to the front lines where they should be,” Forsyth added. “And $3 million could do a lot in the front lines quite frankly.”

In June, Horne fired the entire AHS board after it voted to stand by its decision to award pay-at-risk for the 2012-2013 fiscal year despite a request from the province to reconsider.

Watch: Health Minister Horne fires entire AHS board

“Albertans elected us to ensure government – and its agencies and boards – live within their means,” said Horne in June.

“At a time when we’ve asked our front-line providers, including doctors, teachers, and support workers to take freezes in pay, the unwillingness of the AHS’ Board to reconsider its decision on pay-at-risk is completely out-of-step with the government’s priorities – and more importantly, the priorities of Albertans.”

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Former board chair Stephen Lockwood told Global News he was “disappointed” in Horne’s decision, but didn’t regret the decision the board made.

He said, until the termination decision, he felt AHS was an arm’s-length agency.

The “best chance to create a sustainable, publicly-funded, quality system was with the arm’s-length governance model we had,” said Lockwood.

In the pay-at-risk vote, six board members voted in favour of the bonuses, with three members abstaining. Lockwood said AHS must honour its previous contractual commitments.

Since Oct. 15, 2012, AHS has posted executive expenses online. To view them, click here.

Below, you can see the executive salaries and benefits paid to AHS executives for the prior fiscal year. The full financial report can be found here.

Alberta Health Services

More to come…