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