Former Alberta Health Services executive says he quit after premier interfered in Hinshaw hiring

By Dione Wearmouth

A former executive with Alberta Health Services says he quit over political interference from the premier’s office.

Dr. Braden Manns’s resignation letter accuses Danielle Smith of quashing his organization’s plan to hire Dr. Deena Hinshaw for an Indigenous care position.

Manns resigned as AHS interim vice president back in June, after he says the premier stopped the health authority’s plan to hire Hinshaw, who was then snapped up by British Columbia as their deputy provincial health officer.

He said Hinshaw had already accepted the job offer from the panel in charge of filling the position, but it was rescinded after the premier stepped in, something he says is not acceptable.

“Is the priority having a healthcare system that works? Or do we want healthcare just to be a political football that is used to win or lose elections?” Manns said. “I would say that we want a healthcare system that works.

“Absolutely, it’s accountable to the government, but it needs to be relatively independent with an independent board, and it needs to be able to take a longer range view on planning.”

And, according to the doctor, the government has other practices that weaken public trust.

“Albertans should be quite concerned about the state of public transparency in Alberta, we are an outlier in terms of freedom of information requests actually being released,” Manns said. “We do not have the public transparency that we should have.”

The government and AHS also need to trust each other, he said.

Plans recently announced by the province to restructure AHS are also concerning for the physician.

“I am concerned that the recent restructuring is pulling control of healthcare even further up into the government and that’s going to make it easier for government to control information, it’s going to make it easier for them to micromanage the system, and frankly, that can lead to gridlock,” Manns said.

In an unrelated press conference, Smith denied claims she was responsible for Hinshaw not being hired, adding that the hiring decision was made by AHS officials and not her.

An email to CityNews from the premier’s press secretary, Sam Blackett, also says final staffing decisions lie with AHS.

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