Government & policy
Alberta terminates nine health region
– In a controversial move, Alberta sacked the chief executives at all
nine of the province’s health authorities earlier this month.
They included Calgary Health Region boss Jack Davis (pictured on left)
and Capital Health’s Sheila Weatherill (pictured on right). CEOs were
also eliminated at the three other medical bodies that govern cancer
care, addictions services and mental health. Four of the CEOs will
remain with the province’s new “super-board” in other roles.
The announcement comes nearly two months after Health Minister Ron
Liepert eliminated the boards of Alberta’s nine regional health
authorities. Liepert replaced the boards with the Alberta Health
Services Board, a single Edmonton-based entity.
Under the changes, the board appointed several interim executives to the
new organization, including Calgary physician Dr. Chris Eagle, former
chief operating officer of the CHR, to the position of interim Chief
Operating Officer for urban centres.
The super-board is chaired by Calgary businessman Ken Hughes. Kay Best,
former chief financial officer of CHR, becomes the interim chief
Other new hires at the board include Paddy Meade, former deputy minister
of Alberta Health, who is the permanent Executive Operating Officer and
Pam Whitnack, former CEO of Chinook Health Region, who becomes chief
operating officer for the rural system.
Healthcare analysts across the country expressed skepticism about
whether Alberta's move would improve the performance of the system.
“This is, in my view, a move backward into essentially having a ministry
of health (running the system) with another name,” said Joseph D’Cruz, a
professor and specialist in healthcare management at the University of
Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.
“I had always thought that the Alberta experience in regionalization was
quite successful, and particularly, that Edmonton and Calgary had
evolved into mature, successful regional authorities,” D’Cruz told the
Edmonton Journal. “So we in Ontario quite envied the amount of progress
that Alberta had made in that direction.”
“I would be very skeptical about how successful they’ll be in doing that
because centralized bodies are generally not responsive to local needs
and patient access is very much a local question,” D’Cruz said. “Local
governance and local decision-making is a superior way of achieving
Alberta’s move to centralize is exactly the opposite of what other
provinces are doing, D’Cruz said. Only tiny P.E.I. has one health
region. B.C. has five health regions, with one provincial health service
overseeing some delivery.
Both Saskatchewan and Manitoba have several health regions and Ontario
is developing a system with 14 regional health authorities.