Smith fires AHS board, appoints administrator

Alberta has unveiled their AHS reform plan, which includes four key priorities and replacing the formerly 11-member board with a singular official administrator. Jillian Code has the details.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, along with Health Minister Jason Copping announced the province’s health reform plan Thursday, which resulted in firing the Alberta Health Services (AHS) board and appointing an administrator.

“Patients are waiting too long across our health system, despite the excellent work of doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other front-line staff,” said Smith. “We need more-urgent action to improve access. Albertans want accountability within AHS and they want to know that a world-class health system, and level of care is available when they need it.”

Smith announced Dr. John Cowell is the appointed full-time official administrator, reporting directly to the Premier and minister of health.

Dr. Cowell was the previous AHS administrator when Alison Redford was the premier.

“We are pleased to have Dr. Cowell leading this important work. He has extensive knowledge of Alberta’s existing healthcare system and AHS,” Copping said. “I also wish to thank all the members of the AHS board of directors for their service and dedication to Albertans.”

Meanwhile, Cowell says he’s ready to tackle his new role.

“I am ready to get to work on behalf of Albertans, building a better system to support patients needing care,” said Cowell. “I look forward to working with the AHS team, and taking tangible actions to drive much-needed change.”

Cowell will be working directly with Mauro Chies, the interim AHS CEO, to improve EMS response times, decrease ER wait times, reduce wait times for surgeries, and develop long-term reforms through consultations with front-line workers.

Cowell adds as the system is in crisis, he’s ready to fix it.


“A lot of these problems have known solutions, and it’s really the implementation side of it. That’s why I’m …  maybe more than cautiously optimistic that we’re gonna see real results in 30 days, 96 months, I mean, six months for sure. As much time as you need, and you couldn’t do it in class to see meaningful change,” Cowell said. “But I think the wedding conditions are now in place for us to actually see some movement in these critical areas that have been identified.”

“Right now we have a very straight focus on what is the pathway that we’re going to tackle first. And secondly, that flow from EMS to admission, bed problems on the other hand, and surgical wait times.”

In response to Smith’s announcement, opposition party leader, Rachel Notely, released the following statement Thursday:

“Today’s announcement does nothing to get Albertans a family doctor, nothing to address the specific calls from frontline paramedics to reduce wait times, and nothing to get children’s medication in the hands of Alberta parents.”

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