Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Alberta Flu Shots part of privitztion program.

Underfund; under staff; close facilities and tell the population private is the only way to go! This is good thinking as a Conservative.

Flu Shots are slow to start in Alberta putting pressure on unusually few facilities. This has caused Pharmacies like London Drug to charge a reported 18.00 per shot for standard flu shots. They (London Drugs) explain they asked the Government for the coin and were refused.

In keeping with this plan, a major grocery chain is also giving flu shots but for 12.00.

Most countries instruct people to stay away from crowded situations as the first line of defense. Some suggest their populations wear face masks in public.

In order to force their privatization envelope one step forward Alberta has forced people into long crowded lineups or forced them to wait in halls and large rooms a couple hundred people at a time. Some are sneezing, sweating and living the life in an enclosed space.

I would not be surprised at all to hear stats that Alberta tops canada with the number of sick and dead this year. All because of policy, not medicine!

Those of you who voted Conservative must surly be shaking your heads now? And if you think those very extreme people in the Wild Rose Party are going to give you any relief you have been very misguided!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Alberta Oil-The world has changed!

This came to me from a respected source so will publish as is: The new technology referred to is the use of Carbon Dioxide as a solvent to free the oil. The CO2 comes back out of the hole when oil is recovered. This is why I say taxpayer paying for carbon sequestration is a farce!

Here's an interesting read, important and verifiable information :
About 6 months ago, the writer was watching a news program on oil and
one of the Forbes Bros. was the guest. The host said to Forbes, "I am going to
ask you a direct question and I would like a direct answer; how much oil does
the U.S. have in the ground?"

Forbes did not miss a beat, he said, "more than all the Middle East put together."

Please read below.
The U. S. Geological Service issued a report in April 2008 that only scientists and oil men knew was coming, but man was it big. It was a revised report (hadn't been updated since 1995) on how much oil was in this area of the western 2/3 of North Dakota, western South Dakota, and extreme eastern Montana ..... check THIS out:

The Bakken is the largest domestic oil discovery since Alaska's Prudhoe Bay, and has the potential to eliminate all American dependence on foreign oil.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates it at 503 billion barrels. Even if just 10% of the oil is recoverable... at $107 a barrel, we're looking at a resource base worth more than $5..3 trillion.." says Terry Johnson, the Montana Legislature's financial analyst."When I first briefed legislators on this, you could practically see their jaws hit the floor. They had no idea."

his sizable find is now the highest-producing onshore oil field found in the past 56 years," reports The Pittsburgh Post Gazette. It's a formation known as the Williston Basin, but is more commonly referred to as the 'Bakken.' It stretches from Northern Montana, through North Dakota and into Canada.

For years, U. S. oil exploration has been considered a dead end. Even the 'Big Oil' companies gave up searching for major oil wells decades ago. However, a recent technological breakthrough has opened up the Bakken's massive reserves.... and we now have access of up to 500 billion barrels. And because this is light, sweet oil, those billions of barrels will cost Americans just $16 PER BARREL!

That's enough crude to fully fuel the American economy for 2041 years straight. And if THAT didn't throw you on the floor, then this next one should - because it's from 2006!

U. S. Oil Discovery- Largest Reserve in the World Stansberry Report Online - 4/20/2006
Hidden 1,000 feet beneath the surface of the Rocky Mountains lies the largest untapped oil reserve in the world. It is more than 2 TRILLION barrels. On August 8, 2005 President Bush mandated its extraction. In three and a half years of high oil prices none has been extracted.

With this motherload of oil why are we still fighting over off-shore drilling? They reported this stunning news: We have more oil inside our borders,than all the other proven reserves on earth. Here are the official estimates:

- 8-times as much oil as Saudi Arabia
- 18-times as much oil as Iraq
- 21-times as much oil as Kuwait
- 22-times as much oil as Iran
- 500-times as much oil as Yemen
- and it's all right here in the Western United States .

HOW can this BE? HOW can we NOT BE extracting this? Because the environmentalists and others have blocked all efforts to help America become independent of foreign oil! Again, we are letting a small group of people dictate our lives and our economy.....WHY?

James Bartis, lead researcher with the study says we've got more oil in this very compact area than the entire Middle East -more than 2 TRILLION barrels untapped. That's more than all the proven oil reserves of crude oil in the world today, reports The Denver Post.

Don't think 'OPEC' will drop its price - even with this find? Think again! It's all about the competitive marketplace, - it has to. Think OPEC just might be funding the environmentalists?

Got your attention yet? Now, while you're thinking about it, do this:Pass this along. If you don't take a little time to do this, then you should stifle yourself the next time you complain about gas prices - by doing NOTHING, you forfeit your right to complain.
Now I just wonder what would happen in this country if every one of you
sent this to every one in your address book.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nursing Professional lights up Stelmach and Company

Mr. Ron Liepert
Mr. Ed Stelmach,
Dr. S Duckett

Dear Mr. Liepert,
I heard your confession on television about making a mistake in your communication concerning the plans for health care. That isn’t where I saw the mistake. Your communication was clear to me and many others. Perhaps in your own mind it wasn’t. So allow to share with some ideas you may want to think about.

Many of us professionals see the huge mistake in hiring high paid foreigners who have contributed zilch in this province, instead of listening to front line workers, doctors and nurses right in our own back yard. To think we don’t have skilled people here is unrealistic and incredibly arrogant.

I read Vision 2020. The goals sound good to those who don’t know. but they are so broad that guidelines for those goals aren’t only difficult to narrow down because of their broad range, but there are many directions those guidelines could go within those goals. So that isn’t reassuring to those who know about goal setting and drafting guidelines.

I question replacing registered nurses with more LPN’s.

I do not underestimate the work LPN’s do and there is a very valuable roll for them in the health care system. However, there are limits to their scope of knowledge just as there are limits in the scope of knowledge for example between a medical doctor and a registered nurse just in the quantitative versus qualitative aspects of the education itself.

My reason for questioning this is that the acuity of patients in hospitals has grown very dramatically and requires highly skilled professionals whose knowledge and expertise goes beyond the scope you are recommending. Enclosed is an article I wrote before I left my career in the nineties with the same attrition as is again proposed and which left a big hole in deleting highly experienced staff. I was one of those people. I would like you to read the attached article of just one 36 hour day on a ward- without overtime. Then tell me, which one of those situations of acuity could have been handled by an LPN? This kind of situation has now become the normal situation for most nurses in hospitals. That role cannot be replaced and still provide quality.

Premier Ed, Mr. Liepert and Dr. Duckett, do not under estimate the acuity of patients today. The ones that are in hospital are there mostly because they can’t go home, a clinic or a day ward, and are too ill. They are there because they need to be (except for those who need long term care beds).

My daughter on the other hand was a new grad from the university and left for the USA to get a job in the nineties. She received 3 awards for excellence in nursing since then. We educated her and lost her ICU experience, and as a family we lost a daughter, a sister, grand daughter, cousin and niece, possibly forever unless this province has some incentive in recruiting back our professionals.

How is this government going to retain nurses and doctors that get educated here? If you let go of senior staff through attrition, and many will take it because they have “had it”, and if young don’t start their career here, how is that going to encourage a career in health care for the future for both nurses and doctors?

We need an environment in this province that fosters excitement in health, sciences and research with encouragement for health care professionals to stay in the province because it is a wonderful career.

Your government is building the Edmonton Clinic across from the University of Alberta Hospitals. How do you plan to staff this place?
We need more public medi centres or public health clinics that people can go to even after hours so as not to burden emergency wards.

We need more quality home care if you want to really keep people in their homes.

Front line doctors and nurses need to be part of the plan for decisions in alternatives.

We need to establish prevention through a Public Primary Care Network with proper assessment of needs and education.
This could include seniors, diabetics and others with chronic diseases who may need this type of care.

Special clinics for bone, joint and many other procedures has proven to reduce wait times in a huge way. Don’t cut it and don’t privatize it.
My medical and nursing colleagues from England and Australia do not want a P3 system here.

Dynalife should not have a monopoly on lab work,
They are sucking money out of the system and out of the country.

Do not assume that pastoral care for people in crises can be turned over to other professionals. It is a different art and science form

When a family has lost a loved one, or the sudden death of their child, when someone is facing a fatal diagnosis, when staff are in tears because of the horrendous difficulties they often face,( we are human also) it is the pastoral or grief professionals that are there in an entirely different capacity than doctors, nurses, social workers or even clergy that have an outside church. Their training and education for this role is different. These people are on call 24/7. They are there to pick up the pieces and the spiritual healing of the soul. Health care is more than physical physiology. And to assume that anyone else can do that job is lacking in knowledge.

Consider a possibility of replacing the now defunct health care premiums with long term care premiums. If it was a government run program instead of a private insurance company, it could have the same long term benefits as EI and CPP. Many people could not afford private Long Term Care Insurance. I pay as much as $220.00 a month for twenty years. In the event, I should need it for home care, assisted living, or other facility, I would only receive $2000.00 a month. An average senior in a long term care institution lives a mean average of 2 years. If I die before I use it, the insurance company keeps all the money. Twenty years at $220.00 a month equates to $52,800 profit not counting interest just from one person.

If the government had a cheaper program to replace health care premiums for everyone, there would be plenty of money in the pot for long term care. Every young person will get old or some may need support at a young age as a result of crippling illness, car, recreational or industrial accident which at present costs the tax payers millions.I am currently working with some of these young people in their 20’s.

Use highly experienced senior nurses as a bigger liaison between patient and doctor instead of getting rid of them.
I was a nurse clinician in a specialty area of Nephrology (physiology and diseases of the kidneys) with 34 years of experience from the pioneering stage of dialysis (second unit in the world next to Seattle) to the evolution of treatment over the years, teaching, and finally as a nurse clinician in the area of dialysis and renal transplantation.

I took 4th year medicine and worked under the supervision of the Nephrologists for a year first. It was very satisfying and saved them many hours of work after that. We worked as a team. I was able to see and assess the newly discharged transplant recipients while the doctors made rounds on the ward and would communicate with them after saving time for everyone. They still saw them regularly in clinic. Many senior Nephrology nurses and I knew what they didn’t. I knew all the patients thoroughly, all 800 of them. The doctors and junior staff relied on that knowledge and expertise from us “old senior birds”. It didn’t take away from what they needed to do. It added to the quality of care.

There has been talk in Ontario about Physicians Assistants. The scope of a nurse clinician or nurses who make cardiology, or surgery, or orthopaedics or any other area their specialty, the scope is much bigger with more education as they see the total picture of the person, the family, the community and the resources. Such experienced nurses could be a very added value in community settings and are a necessity in acute care hospitals for stability, continuity of care, teaching and research.

I know these are difficult times. I ask that you consider what I have just told you. Putting money in the right place will save money long term with a healthier society. Another slash and burn of the nineties will not be cost effective in the long run, and neither will private health care.

After you read my enclosed attachment, consider who you want to care for you, a well run public system or a deregulated private institution for profit? Pray they have a crash cart in the event of a cardiac arrest and that someone knows how to use it before they transfer you to the public hospital. There by the Grace of God go you.

Professional Nurse

Friday, October 16, 2009

Stelmach "Keeping our resource competative"

The Republicans in the US hammered the taxpayers with a built in give away of resource revenue.

The current administration is reviewing these deals with a view to charging royalty along a line of what the resource is worth.

The rate that the Republicans put in was 19% US which happens to be the base for Alberta's resources under the Conservatives.

Deduct from this the Royalty in Kind paid in Bitumen and you see that we are hardly breaking even in this deal.

If you are thinking you will get anything better from the Wild Rose outfit you are sleeping.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Coal fly ash poisons water aquifers

According to Upper Watauga Riverkeeper Donna Lisenby's review of the data, all thirteen of the tested coal ash ponds were found to be leaking toxic heavy metals and other pollutants into nearby groundwater, including but not limited to: arsenic, boron, cadmium, chloride, chromium, iron, lead, manganese, pH and sulfate. In all, the analysis found 681 instances where levels of pollutants were in excess, ranging from 1.1 to 380 times higher than North Carolina's groundwater standard.

"The results of this data are very alarming, and we now know that some of these ponds have been leaking into the groundwater for years," said Lisenby. "We intend to call for further oversight and clean up of coal ash pond waste to prevent additional heavy metals and other toxins from being released into our groundwater and rivers."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Health Care Private Insurance confirmed by Stelmach

You heard him folks!

"We will look after the poor and the Seniors"

What he didn't fully say was the Seniors had to be poor to receive any Government subsidy on health care premiums. The rest of us are expected to purchase our own health care plans or badger our employers for "better" and "more" health care.

Remember the numbers they are using are not real; they drove up the health care costs with high wages and higher settlements.

I don't know what we can do about it now short of shooting them!

Monday, October 12, 2009


Survey Introduction

Laying the foundation for legislative reform

A message from the Minister's Advisory Committee on Health

Alberta's health system is governed by a complex web of legislation, regulation and contractual agreements. Some of our legislation dates back to the early 1900s and has become a barrier to improved care and innovation. (The legislation was a deliberate barrier protecting against privatization!)

That's why the Minister's Advisory Committee on Health is examining what an effective and responsive legislative framework could look like in today's – and tomorrow's – context.
Alberta's health system needs to better consider a patient-centred approach that places wellness, good health and the prevention of avoidable illness and injury in the forefront.

We need support for a broader array of health providers and health care settings. We have new care facilities, new health providers, new technologies, and new ways of providing care – Alberta needs renewed legislation that keeps pace. (New Health Care Providers are US style insurance companies on the march into Alberta and Canada)

Legislation can be a tool for transforming our health system. So how can we reshape our legislation in order to put the focus on wellness? How can it help us put patients' needs first? How can we capture the best that innovation can offer? And how do we do that while respecting and complying with the Canada Health Act and our desire for a publicly-funded, patient-centered system? (They have told us they intend to change the Canada Health Act so it conforms with their ideas of private medicine practice and coverage!)

Survey guide
• Please read the following guide before completing the online survey.
The need to update health legislation in Alberta (And in Canada!)

The Minister's Advisory Committee on Health met on two occasions to discuss what principles and themes a new health legislative framework should address. As a starting point, we would like to offer the following thoughts and ask for your input.

Albertans value a strong public health system. They want to know that they can access health services when they need them, regardless of income. They want a health system that delivers services in better ways and uses technology to improve outcomes. However, today's system has legislative and regulatory barriers that limit choice and prevent change. (Again, shylocks using verbiage to do away with the Canadian standard for health in a public system!)

For example:

• A funding structure that pays for prescription drugs in a nursing home but not in an assisted living or home setting;
• Barriers to enabling health providers to use all their training and competencies, for example, in primary care settings; (stopped now by funding and soon to allow hospitals to take on US patients in our hospitals!)

• Models that firstly fund and focus on care in hospitals and secondly at home or in the community; and (Take a lien of your home before treatment is offered)

• A fee structure that makes a routine prescription renewal a medical event rather than something done by a pharmacist. (Have you ever put up with the half hour lectures and arguments by a pharmacist to get even a physician prescription filled?)

This arises because historically, health legislation – and the system – has been organized primarily according to specific facilities or settings (e.g. hospitals, nursing homes, etc.) or providers (e.g. physicians) and focused more on the treatment of disease and injury than on wellness and prevention. (The structure of the legislation has been set up to stop publicly funded and built institutions from being used by private coverage to treat their patients-as in the case of looking for US insurance business for their Cardiac and other converges; Canada hospitals are public funded and cheaper than the comparable US hospital. Canada would be a savings for US insurance)

Today, we see health in a broader social context, more in line with the determinants of health as laid out by the World Health Organization, namely, that the things that make people healthy or not include their income and social status, education, physical environment, social support networks, genetics, access and use of health services, and their gender.1

Health legislation for the future must support this broader perspective and key transformations underway in health and health care. It should also encourage innovation and allow for the adoption of new technology and practices as they emerge. It needs to help us address the challenges before us. (As in MRI units built across the province and no staff hired to run them while keeping up waiting lists to foster dissent in the population!)

Challenges to the health system
Our health system needs to be structured to meet the challenges that lay ahead. These include:
• An aging population – Today's boomers will be tomorrow's seniors and will bring profound and enduring economic, social and political implications. The first baby boomers will reach age 65 in 2011. By 2031, it is projected that one in five Albertans, or 20 per cent of the population, will be seniors. This aging population will bring greater and greater demands on the health system.
(Seniors have proven to be in better general health than the average 40 year olds in the US and Canada)

• Population growth and diversity – As of June 2009, Alberta continues to have the highest year-over-year growth rate in Canada as a result of its high birth rate and continued interprovincial and international migration2. Alberta's aboriginal communities are also growing and experience higher than average rates of certain chronic diseases, particularly diabetes, renal disease, heart disease and mental illness. Furthermore, these communities experience access barriers to the health system due to cultural, social and financial factors. (All problems brought on by the unteathered and unplanned expansion of the tar sands)

• Health spending – Alberta has consistently spent more than the Canadian average on per capita and annual growth in health spending3, yet only has average outcomes in areas such as wait times and health service quality4.

Therefore, it is unclear if we are getting value for our spending in Alberta's health system. (There has never been an itemized accounting of health care expenses in this province! At the same time hospitals have been blown up. Built and not used and huge salaries paid and even larger settlements given to changing regimes. Multi Billions squandered by this Government is not health care it is mis management)

• Impact of chronic disease and injury – The incidence of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory illness, mental health disorders and diabetes, are rising and account for 60 per cent of the health system's medical costs5. In Canada, the current cost of illness, disabilities and death due to chronic disease is $80 billion annually(Figures consider time lost at work etc not direct costs to health care)

6. Injuries are the leading cause of death for Albertans aged 1–44. Managing chronic disease and injury prevention is not solely a health system issue and requires collaboration across governments and all sectors of society. (Studies have shown much of the chronic ailments stem from sedentary life styles; lack of exercise)

• Dependency on facility based care – The majority of Alberta's hospitals and long-term care centres are operating above capacity and are not always the appropriate setting for the patients for which they are caring. However, the system is unable to readily transition patients out of these facilities and into community based care alternatives where appropriate because there is limited capacity available. (Ongoing short funding has caused bed closing which in turn lowers the capacity of the hospitals. Quirky numbers being used)

• Increased utilization of health technologies – Technologies are developed to solve a problem and improve quality of life. They are an indispensable component of the health system in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease and disability.

They also have the potential to be effective in avoiding health system costs, but only if used appropriately. Policies for the selection and management of new technologies must be based on scientific evidence and best practice; otherwise, health technologies can quickly become a significant cost driver while not necessarily providing for better health outcomes. (Here we go folks; they will take your house before you get a new treatment!)

• Supply and diversity of our health workforce – Health is labour intensive; in fact, Alberta Health Services spends over 70 per cent of its budget on staff salaries.(Again there is no accounting of spending-Massive severance packages come under salaries)

By the year 2020, it is projected that Alberta's health system will not have enough nurses or family physicians to meet the needs of the population. While strategies are needed to increase supply in these areas, consideration of the expanded role of other health providers is required. (An introduction into nurses union busting)

Over the past two decades, Alberta has seen a significant increase in the diversity of health professionals, such as respiratory therapists, nurse practitioners, paramedics and mental health workers. These highly educated professionals potentially could take on a larger role in the provision and coordination of health services through expanded scopes of practice. (Alberta has forced a system of reference onto Physicians. The physician refers you to a specialist and gets extra coin as does the specialist. The specialist refers patients back to the physician again for more bucks)

• Insufficient emphasis on public health – Public health is the collection of programs, services, policies and regulations that together focus on keeping the whole of the population healthy. Currently, more emphasis is placed on improving the health care or healing system rather than focusing on activities that keep us from becoming sick or getting sicker. (We do not need a private system to exercise more and eat better!)

• Limited health literacy – Health literacy is the ability to access, understand, evaluate and communicate information as a way to promote, maintain and improve health in a variety of settings. It is an essential step in managing and advocating for one's health. Research indicates that persons with limited health literacy skills are more likely to skip preventative measures, making them more susceptible to illness, higher rates of hospitalization and ultimately, higher health care costs. Strategies such as engaging health providers to assist in educating patients and early health emphasis in schools have increased health literacy. This results in improved maintenance of one's health, lower rates of hospitalization and ultimately, lower health care costs.

A discussion about principles for renewed health legislation

As Alberta's health system evolves and adopts new ways of delivering care and models that put patients and their families at the centre of their care, what principles need to be embedded or maintained in order to ensure that we protect and sustain what matters most in our health system?

In its Terms of Reference, the Committee was given two principles as a starting point for its deliberations –

1. The public health system will serve the interests of all Albertans regardless of their ability to pay; and (Ability to pay key here- if you make more than 20,000 per year you have enough to pay your own in health care- enter private insurance)

2. Access to publicly funded health care services will be fair and effective. (This means limited, fair in the Conservative world means your income is 20,000 or below!)

Another way of describing those principles is patient-centered, publicly-funded and accessible. Albertans along with other Canadians value the national framework of health services available on the basis of need, not ability to pay, linking provincial health systems with the principles in the Canada Health Act. What about quality and safety as principles? A focus on wellness? (Again the deceit :Talk Canada Health Act as it is now then, change the Canada Health Act! If there was any honesty they would tell us what exactly they want to change in the Canada Health Act and, what they want to delist in services! Ability to pay means in the final form they take a lien on your home if you do not have private insurance. Just look to the US system they are trying to emulate!)

As a starting point, we need to ask ourselves what might the guiding principles for a new legislative framework be? Do the principles below provide a starting point? What other principles need to be embedded in a new legislative framework? What would you change or add?

Examples of principles
1. Publicly funded and consistent with the Canada Health Act, including the principles of public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability and accessibility.

o The principles of the Canada Health Act embody many of the values that Albertans and Canadians expect from the health system. While the Canada Health Act focuses on what are termed "medically necessary" services – primarily hospitals and physician fees – Alberta’s publicly funded health system covers a much broader range of health services and the principles within the Canada Health Act have come to mean more than when originally drafted. (Here we go again, they are talking of the Canada Health Act as it is now and their intention is to change it to fit their privatize programs)

2. Committed to quality, including acceptability, accessibility, appropriateness, effectiveness, efficiency and safety.

3. The Health Quality Council of Alberta has developed a quality matrix outlining the dimension of quality in health. They include the six dimensions of quality included in the proposed quality principle. Sustainability is embedded in these dimensions; a quality system is a sustainable system. (This is what we have now with no changes)

4. Focused on wellness and public health.

o It can be said that what we have now is a disease system and that our approach needs to be fundamentally rethought so that public policy and priority is given to initiatives that will support healthy and resilient people, families and communities. (This is what we have now!)

5. Patient-centered across a full and integrated continuum of health services, from health to end of life. (If you don't have the cash earlier than you might think!)

o Focusing on what works for people and their care journey improves access and outcomes. A full continuum of care looks at health needs throughout a person’s life, including prenatal through to continuing care and palliative care (We have this now under the public system; when it goes private you have only what you can put up the cash for!)

6. Protective of infirm and vulnerable Albertans.
o A critical measure of the health system is how it cares for the most ill and vulnerable. (This crew is a breath away from compulsory euthanasia!)

7. Accessible to all Albertans regardless of ability to pay.

8. Albertans believe that need, not ability to pay, is a fundamental part of the social network in Canada. (This is what we have now, they are going to change it!)

9. Decision-making based on the best evidence available that enables the right care, in the right place, at the right time and by the right provider.

o Use of up-to-date evidence to determine what health services are delivered, how they are delivered, and where and by whom, will help lead to better health outcomes for Albertans and better use of the time and skills of providers and other health resources. (Nancy Bethowsky format; chewing gum for the mind!)

A discussion about themes for renewed health legislation
In its discussions around what key transformations should be enabled by new legislation, the Minister's Advisory Committee on Health discussed the importance of a system focused on wellness, one that helps build resilience in Albertans, families and communities, and one that puts patients and their families at the centre of their care.

The following themes outline broad policy areas that could support a patient-centred health system for the future. Do these themes reflect the changes that you think should happen? Would you change any of them? We want to know what themes you would propose – and why.

Optimizing the competencies and capacity of all health service providers (As in changing the Canada Health Act)

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Stelmach rejects royalty-loss warning

The US Interior Department's inspector general found exactly the same thing Mr. Dunn found!

Stelmach's views are strictly there to discredit Mr. Dunn while propping up a dysfunctional system.

SUBJECT TO MANIPULATION the US view on payment in kind.

Salazar said the program "has been a blemish on the department" and has "created problems and ethical lapses" among those who managed it.

At a recent House committee hearing, Salazar said, "It's time for us to end the royalty-in-kind program." About half of the oil and gas royalties come through the in-kind program, and Salazar said that would be phased out over a period of time to make an orderly transition.

The credibility of MMS offices responsible for the royalty-in-kind program was undermined last year when the Interior Department's inspector general found evidence that at least 13 employees were involved in unethical behavior such as rigging contracts, working part-time as private oil consultants and having sexual relationships with - and accepting golf and ski trips and dinners from - oil company employees.

The inspector general's report cited a "culture of substance abuse and promiscuity" involving a small group of individuals "wholly lacking in acceptance of or adherence to government ethical standards."

The United States has the U.S Government Accounting Office (GAO) along with the U.S Congressional Research Authority. Both groups make valuable information and policy analysis available to the public. The GAO, for example, reported on Alberta's low royalty rates in a 2007 global comparison of oil royalties months BEFORE Alberta's royalty review panel and Alberta's Auditor General came out with similar findings.

That's what Alberta needs now.
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