Friday, March 26, 2010

Quotes from Auditor General Fred Dunn

edmontonjournal.comOctober 2, 2009

Alberta Auditor General Fred Dunn releases his semi-annual report on Oct, 2, 2009, in Edmonton. Highlights include a second look at how the province hands out compensation packages.

This is Dunn's last report before he retires.

Photograph by: Greg Southam, Edmonton Journal

Here is a roundup of Alberta Auditor-General Fred Dunn’s comments as he delivered his final report:

On food safety and the lack of inspections and enforcement:

“I have a high regard for our colleagues and fellow citizens in Calgary. They are entrepreneurial and they are adventuresome. They’re very forward thinking, but dining out should not be a risk-taking venture.”

“To have your inspectors to go in and continuously find the same problems over and over again and nothing gets escalated in a report -- that’s a waste of time. It’s a threat to health … if you want to make it effective, enforce it.”
“If you have irresponsible and risk-taking entrepreneurs out there, let the public know.”

On cost overruns for health projects such as Calgary’s new southeast hospital and Edmonton’s Mazankowski Heart Institute:

“Our conclusion was (Alberta Health Services) does not have effective and efficient financial management systems to approve, monitor and report on capital projects.... Obviously without timely and accurate information, AHS may not be appropriately monitoring and controlling capital projects, resulting in cost overruns and missed deadlines.”

On supplemental retirement plans:

“The supplemental retirement plans were like holding a rattlesnake in your hand. If you don’t control this, it will come back to hurt you. And those things have become very expensive.”

By the end of the 2008-09 fiscal year, AHS’s total supplementary retirement plan obligation was $28 million; four of 11 plans are not funded, so there is no money set aside to cover a roughly $20 million obligation.

On “gold plated” severance packages for top health executives:

“I believe in many cases the compensation committees were either ill-prepared, ill-advised or had not possibly spent the sufficient due diligence to realize the consequence of what they were signing onto....

“There were some payments that were made, we’ll call them friendly parting gifts.”

On creating Alberta Health Services:

“The regional health authorities, they really believed they were autonomous.”
Dunn said it took too long to restructure the boards, which he called “regional fiefdoms.”

“If there was a fallacy within the restructuring, they didn’t do it fast enough,” he said. “The interim management team was there too long before the permanent one.”

On efforts to get contract information from the University of Calgary:

“When we did the CEO selection evaluation and compensation, they were the last ones to give us the contract, they did it very reluctantly, and I’ll be blunt, they sent me the wrong contract. ... If you’re going to deceive an officer of the legislature, I believe that’s tantamount to deceiving the legislature, and I believe that’s obviously inappropriate. ...They offended me.”

On why he is retiring:
“I wish I could have longer sleeps at night. I wake up far too often at 2.30 a.m. ...
“I’ll be blunt. At times I felt very frustrated and somewhat disappointed. And at times I felt rather angry. And I thought it times, when you get to that point, it’s time to leave.”

— Compiled by Trish Audette and Darcy Henton

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Alberta's royalty scheme is a sham!

At the fear of repetition:
The Conservatives came up with still another not so elaborate lie to get elected in the last election. Fairness for everyone was the mantra.

The published a glossy PDF which outlined very high, impossible royalty figures that were supposed to be Alberta's future.

During the last election when the document was published I put up on the blog that the regime held nothing for Alberta Taxpayers. The blog isn't a main stream news paper so, it went unheeded.

When asked for his view of royalty by the media, Kevin Taft threw his apron over his face and ran for the wings. A great opportunity lost.

When the Conservatives recently announced changes to the farce they call a regime I bounced them on this blog and across the world as being the liars they are.

Now, Ron Liepert is running around the country giving dog and pony shows about reducing royalty rates. He is saying there will be still more changes.

Here is the trick:
As the price of oil ropes in these impossible figures they put up in that election document, Liepert goes out for positive press saying he is reducing royalties.

The point of all this is as it was before. There was never any intention of doing anything but reduce royalty. They hammered this home when they changed Alberta's take from US dollars to Canadian dollars in that same document.

Who's fault is all this??

It is my mind the fault lies directly with those people who did not bother to vote. They were in sufficient numbers they could have beat the Conservatives as in no contest.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A critique of Alberta's screwed up health care system.

Dear Gene, Premier Stelmach, and Members of the Legislative Assembly,
As a tax payer and a voter I wish to address Health Care Issues, have some questions I would like answered, some information and some opinions on the following concerns:

In the Edmonton Journal, there was an article Public Versus Private. I am in complete support of the public system NOT private delivery of public services. The votes of my friends and family will hinge on this.

1) Why was the special funding for bone and joint surgery at the Grande Prairie hospital not renewed?

2) Why did Edmonton residents have to drive to Westlock and St. Paul to get knee surgery done and drive home very sick for three hours one way in one situation after anaesthetic because the main earner in the family had to work the next day and couldn’t take the day off?

3) Why does it take three to four weeks to get fasting blood work done at Dynalife, a private for profit publicly funded laboratory, thus delaying surgical procedures and doctor’s visits while siphoning huge money out of our province each year?
One woman has to go from central Edmonton to St Albert. Her wait is 4 weeks. She doesn’t drive.
The system we had before was superior to this and the money stayed here.

4) Many of us paid into the public system for over 40 years with health care premiums and taxes without ever using any of it, knowing that others before us were using that system we were paying for and did not once resent it. It wouldn’t have mattered that my end of life expense to the public was only one day, I was happy with that. It was pride in my Canadian Values as a health care professional. But I also had the security of knowing that in the very last year of my life if I needed “in and out of hospital care”, it would be there for me not a sense of entitlement but rightfully earned.

Why aren’t the younger generation paying premiums and taxes that reflect ones income like we did? Will they be exempt from aging and illness in their later years? Believe me, it isn’t our generation that has a feeling of entitlement. We cared for our citizens when we didn’t need it.

5) Why are we adopting an Australian model when it is fraught with problems costing an extra $3billion of tax payer’s money? The research was done by two CEO’s from three Canadian hospitals complete with references.

6) As a tax payers and voters, do we get to see the “hidden cost” that AHS states are there in a public system?

7) What kind of protection will patients have in the event of a Cardiac arrest in a private facility? Are we going to plug up our hospitals with the easy cases leaving the difficult ones to wait for a surgeon, or a space as has been happening?

8) Who is going to insure standards of practice?
Right now, I know of 7 private for profit home care agencies, each having their own rules that the coordinator can’t have access to as it appears to be secretive. Staff brought in from other countries are low paid and are cherry picking the 15 minute jobs working for two or three agencies. I would be happy to send you the information from front line workers.

9) How could activity based funding “create a level the playing field” stated by Hughes and ensure the same discipline in both systems? when the private does 100 easy surgeries compared to those in the public hospital which are much more complex requiring more care and stay in hospital?
The numbers cannot reflect equal activity.

10) Incentives to provide “superior quality” for hospitals and physicians is undermining their professional capabilities. Perhaps we need to go back to having managers who are nursing and medical people not those who tell staff that they “have to tow the corporate line” or lose their job as some have.

11) One patient needed surgery for a problem that would have put him back to work the next day-“IF HE PAID FOR IT”. He has to wait 6 months to get it done in the public system. WHY? Don’t we want people working?

12) Who will develop policies and standards? The glossy 2020 Vision is of little help.

In closing, if Mr Hughes thinks Albertans are indifferent as to whether surgery is done in a private or public facility, I would disagree with him. Albertans don’t want to be pushed to the side by queue jumpers and have the system cost more than can be provided by the public facility.

I am tired of being told we are burdening the next generation. Please make those stats publicly available. Many of us would to be given credit for the 45 years of financial contribution to the health care system that we hadn’t used. Hopefully, I won’t use a penny but will drop dead on my porch with a margarita in my hand.
I await your genuine reply. Please feel free to forward this to your colleagues.

Darlene - Alberta Health Care Professional.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Encana acknowldges royalty scam and suggests on par with other provinces.

Alberta would have received a bigger chunk of EnCana Corp.' s 2010 budget if it harmonized royalties with British Columbia, CEO Randy Eresman said Tuesday.

And Canada would gain even more if its royalty policies were harmonized with the United States, he added, speaking at the company's investor day presentation -- the first since splitting with Cenovus Energy late last year.
Although Eresman said he's generally pleased with the Alberta government's royalty overhaul, he said the province still lags B.C. and states such as Texas in terms of its competitiveness.

Alberta Balanace of Payments agreement.

It has come to my attention from a concerned Alberta employee that the Alberta Conservatives have been working with the Yukon, British Columbia and Saskatchewan to plan a way to get out of balance of payments.

The Balance of Payments is what makes Canada a country!  Our trade limitations between provinces are greater in some cases than our limitations with the USA.  These limitations are being removed slowly but surely which I think is a good thing.

If we do away with the Balance of Payments it doesn't take much of an imagination to figure out the effected provinces (all) would be looking for new alliance with the US as a better advantage than other provinces in Canada.

Ted Morton, an American citizen has no problems with this nor does the Wild Rose Party who are headquartered in southern Alberta, next to the US border and have the support of the Oil companies who would like nothing better.

There is a chance in a true royalty review to shift billions of dollars out of the oil companies into Alberta's treasury a thought that is totally abhorrent to a politically Conservative mind.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Alberta to trash balance of payments-Canada Beware!

There has been broad coverage this week about Ted Morton's assessment of losses due to fine tuning the so called royalty regime.  He is saying hundreds of millions of dollars will be lost.

The royalty regime he refers to is a farce; an election document; a lie that put them into office.  The AG bounced them after two years pointing out they were far from achieving their stated targets of 19% royalty.

Then came the crisis.  The minister said the new regime would not be applied any time soon.

The change in the phantom  scale hits to top end; where we won't see the price of oil for many years to come!  It would have nothing to do with our profit and loss picture if it were real.  With our royalty take being half of either BC or Saskatchewan,  we are surly going broke but it has nothing to do with the BS regime.

What Morton has done is positioned himself to press for the abolition of the balance of payments formula which has been long standing and agreed to by all the provinces. This in my view is the fabric of Canada.

Ted Morton, a US citizen was co author of the Alberta Firewall with the members of the Wild Rose Party of which doing away with the balance of payments was a keystone. 

Any savings that came from such a plan would go directly to reducing oil royalty further.  It would do nothing for the quality of life in Alberta.

We can nothing short of treading them as traitors but we can do something about the Federal end of things and shut down Stephen Harper bringing to an end Norton's and the Wild Rose ambitions.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Oil Investment funds - pay attention!

Alberta has resisted the overtures of the Fed to have a Federal Security Commission in Alberta.  The fiasco of oil royalty is just one reason why they want a closed club.

People investing in the oil industry will take much of their leads from Government releases. 

What happens to your investment when the Government lies publicly about those same investments?

To get elected they put out a nonsense sheet about oil royalty that would have you believe the oil companies were going to loose their shirts.  That was the public information.  In private, they never applied any of the royalty figures; it was business as usual.  If you sold your stock based on the public information; you got hooped.

It goes on and on.  Their public positions have nothing to do with the reality of what they are doing in relation to the oil companies.  Likewise their adventures into stock.   For what purpose?  Where does the money go?  How is it accounted for?  What are your returns based on.

My guess would be the money taken on bonds is dumped into General Revenues to be used along with everything else.  You would get the guaranteed interest but, would you invest if you knew you were investing in a slush fund?

Alberta cuts oil and gas royalities

This announcement is a farce!  Alberta never, ever initiated the "new royalty regime".  That was an
empty document;a lie to get them elected last time.   This is really no different than them working with the oil companies to propel the NEP farce!

2 years after the election the AG in Alberta bounced the Government because they had failed to reach their targeted 19% royalty.   After that time the minster stated publicly there would be no new rates put in, in the foreseeable future and the AG had no right to look into royalties.

The oil companies are picking up the brass and the drums now to lend credibility to an election bungle saying
they may stay, things will improve and other spin doctoring.  This is a grand theater, nothing more.

The mentioned reductions take place in the scale where Alberta has never ever received any cash!  In writing of the reduced number of rigs they fail to mention most rigs are into directional drilling now.   1/10th of the rigs are required to do the same job! 

Run after a taxi and you save more money than when you chase a bus!

We still collect less than 1/2 of what BC or Saskatchewan does!  What is there to cut?  We are presently paying them to take the stuff out of the province and the Wild Rose Party, financed by the same oil companies promise more of the same.

The Conservatives do not think this  province is entitled to anything more than a lease on the land and income taxes, on par with the US Republicans.

This rip off  isn't going to change any time soon unless Albertans step away from the Conservative vote or, those people who though their vote would not mean anything will step up to the plate and vote.

The royalty announcement isn't even chewing gum for the mind!  It is not just cheap theater; It is perpetrating blatant lies.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Alberta new royalty regime is a farce!

Alberta has produced a document about their new oil regime and competitiveness that is a Public Relations show with very little relative fact in it.

For instance; number of drilling rigs in Alberta is down.  They do not take any time explaining that omnidirectional drilling techniques is what is in now and one rig can drill as many holes as a dozen rigs of just a few years ago. 

Also Alberta does not have the oil shale play that BC and Saskatchewan does.

A year after the last oil regime was announced with all the big numbers in it, the Auditor general pointed out to the Government they had not come any where close to their targets of 19%.

That same document changed our take from US dollars to Canadian dollars.
Take into consideration the 48 cents per barrel we get for crude in payment in lieu of cash and  you will quickly determine we collect less that 1/2 of what either BC or Saskatchewan take in.

The maximum royalty rate will be reduced from • the current levels of 50 percent to 40 percent for conventional oil and to 36 percent for natural gas, effective January 1, 2011.

They have not collected so much as 1 cent at these royalty rates!

  The point of this exercise is to try to put some level of credibility to the BS they peddled to get elected last time!. 

They say that 1 person is 7 is directly or indirectly employed in the oil and gas industry.  That is saying that 14 percent can expect good or marginal returns for incomes and the other 86 percent of the population is either unemployed or marginally employed! 

This crew has been lying through their teeth since day one and they are not about to change.

Alberta's health care to be totally privitized!

We heard of the Federal budget today; transfers for health care are going to be reduced.

This will give the provinces a one liner to tell every one the devil feds did it where in truth they are working in concert.  

Brain dead Albertans continue to vote Conservative regardless of how much or how often they are lied to tricked or beaten.

The door is now open for not just Alberta, but all provinces to claim privatization is the only way to go sighting reduced funding as being the culprit.

I can only hope that some of you reading these articles by this time will have realized that your vote will make a difference!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Alberta Privitzation About Conservative dogma, Not Money, Not service.

The average voter like myself has paid health care premiums for over 45 years and most of us have

never used it, We still pay 30% out of pocket for services not covered by health care, while the

younger generation that are statistically bigger users of hospitals are paying nothing toward their

possible future health care.

I would cheerfully pay premiums like we did knowing that it is the younger generation that are big

users of expensive treatments. Their research is in contrast to research done by Australian

economist Ian McCauley, Australian journalist Jan Li, Donna Wilson from the U of A, and Ontario

Ceo’s, Murray Martin and Cliff Nordal “ A Visit Down Under” as well as research done by Harvard.

For example, every Albertan admitted to an institution is accurately documented. That is fact.

Alberta is chronologically the youngest province in Canada.

Of all Albertans admitted to hospital, 76.4% were under the age of 65.

Babies under a year were the most common.

The average age of hospitalized patients was 39.5 years with half of those being under the age of

36 years. These are not baby boomers.

Only 10.7% are 65 years or older and 16.4% of the elderly admitted to hospital died as compared to

3.3% of other patients.

Over half of the patients admitted to Intensive Care were younger patients who had more done to

them and stayed in ICU longer, the most expensive hospital service.

These stats were checked three times for accuracy.

Please remind me that it was not the economists with their know it all who put our world into a


Submitted by Darlene a former health care professional.
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