Posted on Apr 27, 2020


EDMONTON -- Tyler Shandro’s attempt to explain away his decision to strip 141 Alberta communities of their rural designation as an “oversight” doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. 

On April 24, Alberta Health published a bulletin to all doctors describing changes to the Rural Remote Northern Program, which allows doctors to access additional pay for working in listed communities. The bulletin included a revised list of these communities, which is missing 141 communities, almost a quarter of the list, that were included in versions dating back to at least 2014.

On Sunday evening, Alberta Health tweeted that the new list was “published with incorrect information,” and described it as an “oversight.”

However, an earlier Alberta Health bulletin, published on February 20th, alerted doctors using the Rural Remote Northern Health Program that “the eligible community list will be revised,” and that payments would “be assessed on the basis of a new eligible community list.”

Steve Buick, Tyler Shandro’s press secretary, even shared the criteria for striking off the 141 communities when he told media on Sunday that these were the lowest-scored towns, villages and counties in terms of isolation from urban centres.

“Clearly the minister had planned to do this for months,” said David Shepherd, NDP Opposition Critic for Health. “He refuses to take responsibility for the consequences of his actions, and when the outcry began he blamed the public servants in his department.

“The suggestion that this list of eligible communities was cut by almost a quarter using specific criteria, by mistake, and that this mistake went undetected by the policy staff, the assistant deputy minister, the deputy minister, and the minister himself, and was then published to all of Alberta’s doctors, is preposterous.

“If this colossal error actually went undetected through the entire Alberta Health department, and the Minister himself didn’t check before signing, that is an shocking and unacceptable level of incompetence, which Tyler Shandro must accept responsibility for. But the far more likely explanation is that this is a hasty coverup of Shandro’s terrible decision-making.

“This yet another example of Tyler Shandro’s incompetence and dishonesty. He must be removed from his position as Minister of Health,” Shepherd said.