Statement from Alberta Health Services on OAG report
October 27, 2010
The Office of the Auditor General has identified areas where Alberta Health Services can continue to improve its financial accounting. It is important to note that the financial statements of our organization were given a clean bill of health at a time when AHS was in the midst of the largest merger in Canadian history.
In a very short timeframe we took on as difficult a task as has been asked of any public organization in Canada, toward the greater good of creating a more efficient, more effective single provincial health system, which in turn means better care for Albertans.
The OAG’s recommendations for improvement are a normal part of annual audits. AHS management agreed to all of the Auditor General’s recommendations and is implementing them. Many of the recommendations have already been successfully implemented and most were being put in place before the Auditor General’s report. It was AHS that first discovered and reported concerns about misclassification of ledger expenditures, for example, demonstrating that its review processes, although still in the early stages of development, are working.
Amalgamating the 12 different financial systems of the former health regions and entities is an immense, ongoing challenge. We are making steady progress. The need for a common platform for all major business systems was recognized as a priority for the organization, and new processes and procedures will result in greater accuracy and consistency.
This work will not and was never expected to be completed overnight. It is underway, and it will address all of the issues raised by the Auditor General. Details are provided below. The steps being taken include:
- Consolidation of all major business systems into common platforms;
- Development of a plan to streamline year-end financial reporting processes. This includes the creation of new mechanisms to identify and resolve key accounting risks, and develop structure that enables reporting issues on a timely basis;
- Hiring of additional finance staff to ensure appropriate resources;
- Clear definition of roles, responsibilities and decision-making authorities related to financial reporting.
The amalgamation has already yielded savings of approximately $500 million annually, which have been redirected to health care. These savings would not have been achieved had we not taken the steps necessary to consolidate the former regions.
We support the teams that worked extremely hard to make these necessary changes and we recognize the success we have already achieved during this challenging transition to a single health system. We thank all of you for your efforts.
|Ken Hughes||Stephen Duckett|
|Chair||President and CEO|
|Alberta Health Services Board||Alberta Health Services|