Alberta Health Services Undergoes Major Executive Shake-Up Amidst Restructuring

Alberta Health Services says six of the organization's top executives are no longer in their positions.

In a bold move reflecting the ongoing restructuring of Alberta Health Services (AHS), six of its senior executives, including the recently appointed President and CEO, Mauro Chies, have been ousted from their roles. This sweeping change comes just a week after Premier Danielle Smith‘s announcement to dismantle the provincewide health-care provider, transitioning it into one of four new service delivery organizations under direct oversight from Health Minister Adriana LaGrange.

The upheaval began shortly after Lyle Oberg, a former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister and doctor, was appointed to lead the AHS board. Oberg, in a recent statement, highlighted the need for new ideas, voices, and leadership to guide the 18-month transition period.

Premier Danielle Smith announces a restructuring of Alberta Health Services during a news conference in Edmonton on Nov. 8. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Among the key departures are Dr. François Bélanger, Vice-President of Quality and Chief Medical Officer, and Colleen Purdy, Vice-President of Corporate Services and Chief Financial Officer. Also leaving are Tina Giesbrecht, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary; Geoffrey Pradella, Chief Strategy Officer; and Dean Olmstead, Chief Program Officer of Capital Management.

In the wake of these departures, Sean Chilton, previously the Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer for Clinical Operations, has been named the acting President and CEO of AHS.

Adriana LaGrange, minister of health, speaks about health-care reforms as Alberta Premier Danielle Smith looks on during a news conference in Edmonton on Wednesday Nov. 8, 2023. PHOTO BY JASON FRANSON /THE CANADIAN PRESS

Lorian Hardcastle, an associate professor of health law at the University of Calgary, expressed concerns over the rapid changes. “The planned reforms risk adding a great deal of instability to the health-care system, which is only exacerbated by such a significant shakeup to the board’s composition,” she said.

Details regarding the employment status of the former senior leaders remain unclear. An AHS spokesperson was unable to provide information on this or the potential severance costs. Notably, Chies’s contract outlined a termination payment equivalent to more than 24 months of his base salary, which in 2023 amounted to $583,443.

The restructuring plans involve a focus on acute care, marking a significant shift in AHS’s operational approach. However, questions linger about the appointment of a new Chief Medical Officer to replace Dr. Bélanger, with no information forthcoming from AHS.