By Sam Foster
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"I'm interested in eating my cookie!"
(H/T to El Cerdo Ignautius) That was the reply from Stephen Duckett, Alberta's top Health Services official when reporters asked him about the Province's failing health care system. In case you were unaware, Canada's single payer health care system is drowning in red ink and wait lines.
The clip above is just another reminder that when you turn over important things, like say your health care, to the central planners, don't be surprised if that central planner is more concerned with baked goods than whether or not you can see a doctor.
The best part is yet to come; Province officials are concerned about how to get rid of the bureaucrat!
The Alberta Health Services board's next scheduled meeting is next week, but it could meet within a day.
Duckett's contract with Alberta Health Services is for an indefinite term. His base salary is $575,000 — or more than $11,000 a week — plus a performance bonus up to 25 per cent of his salary.
He also gets a yearly vehicle allowance of $18,000, as well as $10,000 per year for professional development, plus $15,000 a year for "personal financial and tax advice, club memberships and other similar purposes."
If he is fired for just cause, Duckett gets only his pay, the performance bonus, the vehicle allowance and the personal allotment up to the date of termination.
However, if Duckett is fired without just cause, taxpayers could be on the hook for an extra $700,000. That would consist of a year's salary as severance pay; 15 per cent of his salary in lieu of all other benefits; and moving expenses back to his home country of Australia up to $20,000.
Now let's juxtapose this.
Apparently Canada's government has no qualms or hesitation in punishing pesky doctors critical of Canada's Health Care.
To most everyone else, there are more pressing issues — so pressing, that one government MLA, Raj Sherman, an ER doctor himself, went rogue. Early Wednesday morning, he unleashed an email to the public, accusing his own government of making a right holy mess of Alberta health care. The premier had “broken his promise” to improve wait times; his trust in his leader had been “tarnished.” He could no longer support the decisions of the Tories or AHS.
If Mr. Duckett would not respond to reporters’ repeated questions about Dr. Sherman’s charges, premier Ed Stelmach delivered his response Monday: he suspended the doctor from the PC caucus.
This was a fascinating strategy — standing by the cookie connoisseur while tossing the Progressive Conservatives’ most credible voice on health care. Dr. Sherman still puts in shifts at Edmonton’s Northeast Community Health Centre; he surely knows more about emergency care than the other 67 PC MLAs combined. Plus, his father is ill, and it was due to what he said were his five “near-death situations this year alone due to waits in the emergency room” that sparked his outburst.
Duckett's comments remind me of Obama's irritation with the press the first time he went down to hang out with the DC press corps. I just can't wait for all that great centrally planned health care coming our way in 2014.