Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has fired the entire Alberta Health Services (AHS) board.
The premier replaced the 11-member board was replaced with a single administrator — Dr. John Cowell. He held the role for a year under former Progressive Conservative premier Alison Redford.
“He can accelerate the changes that we all need to see,” Smith said at a news conference on Thursday afternoon.
Health Minister Jason Copping said the government must act quickly to get wait times for surgeries back on track.
Cowell said he’s ready to get to work on behalf of Albertans to build a better system to support patients needing care.
“I look forward to working with the AHS team and taking tangible actions to drive much-needed change,” he said.
The change comes as the new premier makes good on her promises to overhaul AHS.
On Monday, former chief medical health officer Deena Hinshaw was fired and replaced with Dr. Mark Joffe.
Hinshaw, of course, gave former premier Jason Kenney’s government advice to lockdown the province and to coerce Albertans into being vaccinated. Under her watch, Alberta Health Services entered places of worship to investigate whether restrictions were being followed and gave orders to arrest pastors.
Joffe, the vice-president and medical director for Cancer Care Alberta, Clinical Support Services and Provincial Clinical Excellence for Alberta Health Services, will reportedly take on the role on an interim basis.
NDP Leader Rachel Notley is panicking about the changes. She called Smith’s announcement “bad political theatre” and claimed it’s unlikely to resolve the core issues behind surging hospital wait times, ambulance shortage and addressing the backlog of surgeries and medical procedures.
Speaking at the Rural Municipalities of Alberta fall convention on Nov. 8, Notley promised to restore stability to health care by undertaking the largest recruitment effort in the province’s history, if elected premier next year.