EDMONTON – The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees will request an inquiry by Information and Privacy Commissioner Frank Work after Alberta Health Services produced only a single, three-sentence long e-mail and attachment in response to a broad request for documents related to the redevelopment of Alberta Hospital Edmonton.
“Through the freedom of information (FOI) process, we have tried diligently to obtain the background information and rationale for Stephen Duckett’s decision to cancel AHE’s redevelopment and received almost nothing. It’s time for some answers,” said AUPE President Guy Smith.
“There are two possible outcomes from an inquiry: either AHS is being truthful and Duckett decided to close the hospital more or less on a whim, or AHS is covering up some discussions that would be politically damaging to reveal,” Smith added.
AUPE contracted researcher Winston Gereluk to investigate Alberta Health Services’ 2009 decision to cancel the redevelopment of Alberta Hospital Edmonton. In February, Gereluk filed an FOI request for “communications by or to Alberta Health Services or its predecessor bodies relating to redevelopment of the Alberta Hospital Edmonton site…for the time period of Jan. 1, 2008 to Jan. 31, 2008.”
AHS claimed no documents matched the request. Gereluk wrote to the Privacy Commissioner’s office to request a review. In his letter, Gereluk observed that the “logical implication” of AHS’s response was that “Dr. Duckett and the Department of Health and Wellness proceeded with this momentous decision without the assistance of any studies, meeting minutes, records, request for information, or even copied e-mails.”
Commissioner Frank Work acted on Gereluk’s request, notifying AHS CEO Stephen Duckett on Mar. 19 that his office would investigate the matter.
On May 4, an investigation guided by the Commissioner’s staff led to the disclosure of a single e-mail with the 2006 AHE redevelopment plan attached. The e-mail, dated Dec. 21, 2009, was sent by Brent Skinner, AHS Executive Director of Capital Operations and Government integration, to Duckett and AHS Chief Financial Officer, Chris Mazurkewich.
“If Stephen Duckett decided to close Alberta Hospital without a single study, or even consulting the 2006 redevelopment plan as the e-mail we obtained from AHS suggests, I think that kind of management should worry everyone in Alberta,” Smith said.
Smith will be speaking about the FOI request and other AHE issues at a town hall meeting on the future of Alberta Hospital Edmonton tonight. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. and will take place at McClure United Church (13708 – 74 Street).
Copies of the correspondence between Gereluk, Alberta Health Services, and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner can be downloaded below.
For more information:
Guy Smith, President, AUPE – 780-930-3301 or 780-265-2294 (cellular phone)
David Climenhaga, Communications Director, AUPE – 780-930-3311 or 780-717-2943 (cellular phone)