AHS salaries under scrutiny as province cuts healthcare costs

Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman counters that executive compensation is not ‘out of line’

AHS salaries under scrutiny as province cuts healthcare costs
The Alberta government will overview executive compensation at Alberta Health Services as part of its 2017-20 business plan to improve governance within the healthcare system.

The ruling NDP is reviewing remuneration at agencies, boards, and commissions, according to the Calgary Herald. As part of that initiative, the government has told AHS to submit an annual executive compensation plan to the province later this spring.

In 2015, AHS president and CEO Verna Yiu was a vice president within the organization; she earned $568,321 during that period. “Certainly the CEO’s compensation is high,” Hoffman told the Herald in an interview.

“I don’t believe it’s out of line with the level of responsibility,” she added, noting that there is no overarching health authority within Canada similar to the AHS, making the review somewhat complicated. According to Hoffman, Yiu gets less pay than some CEOs of Canadian hospitals.

“I want the AHS board to ensure and look not just at the CEO but at other executives in the organization,” she said. “I want to make sure they are doing a thorough analysis with other high-ranking officials within the organization.”

The government has also asked Calgary Lab Services, Covenant Health, CapitalCare, and Carewest to submit compensation plans, though the healthcare providers have no legal obligation to do so.

The largest single part of the provincial budget is healthcare spending, which the NDP has said it would rein in by taking the rate of increase down to 2% by 2018. It stumbled in the last week’s budget, however, as it missed its target of 2.5% growth for 2017-18. Spending has been projected to increase by 5% over last year’s budget, and 3.3% over actual expenditures in 2016-17.

For the first time, per-capita health expenditure figures were included in the health business plan. The statistic showed an increase from $4,588 in 2012 to around $4,793 in 2016. Hoffman says the government is planning to introduce new performance measures, such as per capita spending thresholds, in the years to come.

Other healthcare cost-cutting measures adopted by the government include a new compensation deal with physicians and an attempt to rechannel dollars from acute care to home and community care.

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