1Id like to thank you all for joining me here to mourn, celebrate and move on. We live in differentrealities. Mine is a future primarily outside AHS, yours within. Our realities overlapped for 20 shortmonths, a time when we achieved an enormous amount which is to be celebrated. But also a time cutshort and for me it is appropriate to mourn the might-have-beens, and the agenda that I hope will becontinued. But we all also need to move on, to the next stages of our lives. Many of you are goodfriends and I hope I can catch up with you from time to time, to share laughs and adventures. But manyof you dont know me well. And I want to take this opportunity to give you a better understanding of who I am, what I did and why.
Im going to give a formalish talk, partly to avoid too many tears! What I want to do tonight is say mypiece, not in real time youll be pleased to know. Because of my former role Ive been constrained inwhat I can say, especially so this year. Im a free person now and can reflect on our achievements andmissed opportunities more directly.So to begin at the beginning.
Joining Alberta Health Services
I was appointed in January 2009, Ive told some of you the trials and tribulations of the short-listingvideo interview on the Friday (Australian temperature at +40, the other end of the line in Calgary at -40),the 2 day drive back to Brisbane from my holiday, the haircut, the flight, arriving in Calgary on theMonday night and an hour or so later being rotated around three tables at dinner with the board. Aforetaste of the pace at which I would be working in AHS.Another aside. In the interview I was asked if Id any media experience. I answered yes but I didntexpect thered be much exposure in this job. The Board basically rolled around laughing and I realizedId made yet another mistake in the interview.Although the internet age means people can find out a lot about who you are, I wanted to make myvalues clear, so thered be no risk that Id be asked to do things I wouldnt want to do. Given thegovernments previous history on Medicare
, in my first meetings with Ken Hughes as Board Chair andMinister Liepert in that interview week, I told them that I would not do anything that would underminethe Canada Health Act. They both accepted that position and honoured it. I see myself as a friend of Medicare with a small f. The capital F folk go much further and want to end private delivery, puttingalmost all physician practices out of business
. Not a position I can support.So shortly after the announcement of my appointment, but while I was still in Australia, I got this phonecall from Ken Hughes and Don Sieben, chair of the Audit and Finance Committee, telling me that theyd just become aware of the need to do a significant financial correction, dimensions still unclear butcertainly north of $1B. Imagine my feelings. I thought I was going to a well endowed health system!
To be precise, according to their website(http://www.friendsofmedicare.org/default.asp?mode=webpage&id=52) they are opposed to a parallel system of for-profit delivery, with no mention of any exclusion for physician practices.