Out in the open

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The departure of Vickie Kaminski from the helm at Eastern Health has generated its fair share of comment.

There are those who suggest her management style led to a culture of fear. There are others who point out that she led Eastern Health through extremely difficult times and will be difficult to replace.

Like most things, your view probably depends on your perspective.

But Kaminski’s departure demonstrates one thing pretty clearly: there’s a big difference between Kaminski’s pay here and in Alberta, and there’s a big difference between how Alberta looks at transparency and accountability, and how the government looks at it here.

Kaminski is heading to Alberta to run Alberta Health Services as president and CEO.

You can read her appointment notice at http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/9711.asp — Alberta Health Service’s website.

But that’s not all.

You can have a look at her exact employment contract at http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/org/ahs-org-executive-employment-agreement-president-ceo.pdf — right down to the last detail. She hasn’t even started yet, and the contract is already online. No need for an access to information request, and no need to have sections blacked out.

There’s section 4.1: “The executive will be paid an annual base salary of $540,000, less statutory deductions, which will be paid in accordance with the usual pay practices of AHS. Upon completion of one (1) year of service, the executive may be eligible for annual salary increments based on the assessments of the executive’s performance and in accordance with AHS practices and policies.”

Section 4.4 outlines that AHS will pay relocation expenses.

Section 4.3 outlines Kaminski’s six weeks of vacation: “The executive is entitled to thirty (30) paid days of annual vacation per vacation year (April 1 to March 31), pro-rated for part years. Scheduling of vacation time will be subject to the prior approval of AHS, and will be based on operational needs. There will be no carry-over of vacation entitlement from year to year unless prior written authorization is provided by AHS.”

That is, of course, precisely the kind of detail that Bill 29 sought to remove from the public eye, much the same way that the legislation was broadened to keep anyone from knowing competitive details about companies accepting provincial government contracts.

Here’s the simple answer, though: if you accept money from the taxpayer, you should be willing to explain how much you’re getting.

If you don’t want the person paying your bill to know how much they are paying, perhaps government business and government employment is not for you.

As the provincial Tories make their way towards a review of the many changes from Bill 29, they might stop and consider a simple analogy: when you take the King’s (or Queen’s) shilling, you agree to serve that ruler militarily.

When you’re paid with the taxpayer’s dollar, you answer to the taxpayer.

And if you don’t want to, well, then don’t take the job or the contract.

Organizations: Alberta Health Services

Geographic location: Alberta

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Recent comments

  • John
    March 19, 2014 - 00:09

    Every province should have a sunshine list like Ontario's. If you are making $100,000 a year or more and your salary comes directly from government or indirectly (schools, hospitals, grants...etc) it is published in the paper. This would keep everything honest and any kind of financial misconduct would be picked up on immediately.

  • steve
    March 18, 2014 - 19:59

    Taxpayer dollars - and that's why it was appropriate to reveal doctor's pay during the negotiations when they all threatened to quit at the same time.

  • Mike
    March 18, 2014 - 08:32

    Wholeheartedly agree; furthermore this concept should extend to all government contracts with private business. If you want to do contract work on the citizens' dime, then the books must be open and published from the beginning. Commercial sensitivity in almost all cases is a ruse to cover wastage, patronage and inflated charges. Such a policy would be a huge step in combating corruption and financial mismanagement, both of which are rampant in this province.

    • Angus
      March 18, 2014 - 11:42

      Yes I agree. if you want to bid on a government contract of any kind them I as a taxpayer in a democratic society should know all the particulars about that contract. if you as a private entity don't agree with that then you are free to remove your bid from the process.