Saturday, November 18, 2017

Edward Redshaw 3 hrs · Just a thought. Wondering if one could get the government some “time” for failing to reduce waiting time to see medical specialists resulting in cruel and inhuman suffering snd in some instances death.

Just a thought. Wondering if one could get the government some “time” for failing to reduce waiting time to see medical specialists resulting in cruel and inhuman suffering snd in some instances death.
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Julie Ali No such luck. They are all short term planners in the population pool -who make dumb decisions that harm citizens and they get off without any consequences.
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This and That - Saturday November 25, 2017


Very scattered today. I will hopefully begin the billing for the corporation soon. But maybe not. Have to plan dad's 86th birthday party. No present as usual. Even the cake isn't ready.
I went to the Alberta Motor Association to get hubby added to my AMA membership. I wasn't impressed with the service; this was the rare eve...
READINGCHILDRENSBOOKS.BLOGSPOT.PE
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I went to the Alberta Motor Association to get hubby added to my AMA membership. I wasn't impressed with the service; this was the rare event that I've never before encountered at the AMA where an employee was rather odd and ungracious.

When we finished I got Rebecca home.
I have her watching Dr. Phil and with her art around her. She will be here for a while.  My brother who is taking dad to Vancouver will visit with her at 3 in the afternoon.

Younger boy is up and hubby is fixing him a sandwich as all he had for breakfast appears to be a banana.

I still haven't done my billing.
After I got up at around 4 am I farted around on the Internet and went back to sleep at 7 until 11 or so. It's a broken sleep but it's done.

Tomorrow I will buy a cake for dad's 86 birthday. I've not yet got him a present.
Very disorganized.


All the geraniums are blooming since I have stopped over watering them. They think they are imminently extinct and so are investing in the next generation.  I leave them alone as I found out last week that the soil in the geraniums on the main floor was soggy and this was leading to rot.

The orchids aren't blooming still. I have to put ice pieces on them.

Outside a gray day with a lacklustre feeling about it.  Lots of traffic on the road.  I won't shovel today as there is only a small layer of snow on the pavements.

Still a lot to do but I will parcel it out so that I concentrate on the important stuff of the bills. 

“The financial sustainability of the college sector is very important to our government,” wrote Tanya Blazina, a spokesperson for the ministry, in an email. “We have taken major steps to transform the postsecondary sector and to work toward sustainability.”The union that represents 12,000 faculty across Ontario says colleges are relying too heavily on contract employees to save money and wants to see more full-time teachers hired across the system.----------The colleges’ bargaining agent has says there simply isn’t enough money in the system to do that. “You’re going to add these costs to your business model and somebody’s going to have to pay for it,” said Don Sinclair, CEO of the College Employer Council.----“Students will pick up a portion, and I suspect the taxpayer will, because of the way our funding model works.”---The funding model used to put most of the burden for funding colleges on the government, but has turned in recent decades more to tuition fees as a funding source. In 1992, colleges received 77 per cent of their funding from the government, according to the Canadian Federation of Students — today, the organization says, it’s less than 50 per cent. --------------------







Changes required in post secondary education but won't happen because none of the political parties will touch this hot potato issue.
We are spending a ton of cash on education and the value is just not there except for places like NAIT where I have found the teachers do work, the students do gain real skills and we have eventually jobs for our kids. I mean there may be less theory at NAIT than at University but at least there are dependable results.
It is less clear to me that we are getting value for our university bucks. In fact, the bureaucrats, the executive staff, the boards etc that are in charge of these places appear over compensated and there needs to be a real push to downsize staff levels and pay. I'm sure this is not what folks want to hear but lean, mean and deliverables need to be instituted at these post secondary institutions. Using foreign students and land development projects to sustain staff bills is not acceptable. Its poor use of university assets and it only leads to the perception that the universities are ripping off the Third World to pay for unsustainable advanced education bills.
Tenure needs to be done with. Contracts need to be put in place. And if y'all don't like it, look at the private sector and see how we do it. We're working hard, providing deliverables and keeping our families going without all the union luxuries. Might be nice to have these union luxuries but it is still possible to work and live without them. I'd say the private sector folks will not go for more money down the drain to pay for the bills of public sector folks. Why would we? We pay enough for very little value.

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http://nationalpost.com/opinion/columnists/theyve-gutted-the-system-strike-put-spotlight-on-ontarios-college-funding/wcm/f79431ab-f432-4ebf-9dd9-13358589453b

Julie Ali · 
While I sympathize with both faculty and students in the post secondary sector, I believe that fundamental changes are required in the operation of our post secondary institutions. It is simply unsustainable to continue the way it is.

I've already written to the Advanced Education Minister in Alberta about changes that could save the system money. Unfortunately no one has the balls to tackle the sacred cows in the post secondary institutions because this would mean that we change the entitlements in the public sector.

The changes that could reduce costs in this sector include the following:

1) Alberta has created a program called ApplyAlberta.
This is fine and dandy in that it allows all students to apply to one site. However all this program has done is to ensure that the mail room is removed. The many workers in the Registrar's offices at all the post secondary institutions are still present and cost us a pretty sum of cash to do what? All sorts of evaluations and decisions about entry into faculties that could be automated.

I've asked the GOA (government of Alberta) to create a Evaluate Alberta program to bypass all these registrars' offices and consolidate evaluation externally but no one is interested.

2) I've asked Advanced Education to evaluate all courses done and set up a real functioning Transfer Alberta program where we don't need agreements between each and every institution to ensure our kids get credit for work done. For example my younger son who is in Digital Media and IT at NAIT (Northern Alberta Institute of Technology) may be able to get 1 year of credit at the University of Calgary for his NAIT diploma. No such credits are offered at the University of Alberta. The University of Waterloo won't even look at his courses unless he has three years of work at a college or technical institute. So ridiculous, arbritary and all about turf protecting.

3) There should be an elimination of tenure.
Sure it is nice to have permanent employment without risks but there is no way we should be continuing with this deal when we are out of cash in Alberta and new faculty can't get into the system because there is no money and no space for them. Folks need to be on contracts. Heck I believe the entire public sector should be contractual work. This way if you aren't providing deliverables, unfortunately you will be subject to termination. If this contractual work was in place, I think we would get better teaching, more agile development of the academic system which like government is entirely political and self serving and finally we might get poor academics weeded out as well as their institutions.

4) There should be fewer post secondary institutions.
This is a mystery to me why we have to have so many of these post secondary institutions that are always yapping about budget cuts in Alberta and increasing their dependence on more lucrative foreign students to keep afloat when the government of Alberta should simply cut loose the institutions without the ability to self sustain itself with the current grants in place.

5) There is an incredible amount of dead wood and bureaucracy at these places that should be eliminated and the unions are part of the problem certainly but I'd say more of the problem rests with the government bureaucrats and the post secondary bureaucrats at the top of each of these places. An incredible amount of cash goes to servicing these upper management and executive positions which could safely be eliminated.

6) Government is doing a poor job of ensuring that these post secondary institutions are giving us value for our tuition dollars. In a true free market place some of these places would be long gone but we are stuck with them because of government cowardice in eliminating these sink holes for cash and the failures of the boards at these places to do more than rubber stamp the decisions of upper management at these places. For example why was MacEwan University subject to fraud recently? Where was the board at this place in this mess? I mean they laid off one of the topdogs after the fact but why were proper financial controls not in place at such a major institution?

https://globalnews.ca/.../macewan-university-loses.../
The fraud led university staff members to transfer $11.8 million to a bank account they believed belonged to the vendor, the university said.

7) Unions are good when they help us with work place protections but when they protect the workers who aren't working this is a problem. Also contractual work will become the way of the future.

While contractual work is hard on folks because you have no ability to plan long term I feel that this is the transition that is now inevitable in the workplace for many of us.
LikeReplyJust nowEdited
Ron Gagne
Reduce the funding. Sounds counter intuitive but it is the best way to get innovation and technology to replace this tired old system. Provide students with a tablet as part of tuition that stays at school. Record the lectures and allow students to progress at their own rate based on non judgemental computer random testing. Use associates to mentor and help those students not progressing - the computer will identify them and the areas they are not mastering. Let's stop supporting Jurrasic Park.
LikeReply16 hrs





It is pretty clear to me that changes need to be made in the post secondary sector but unfortunately these changes may not be what both faculty and students want.
We can't as taxpayers keep paying and paying for so many post secondary institutions. There is a limit to our own cash being used for this purpose.
I'd say the government of Ontario like the government of Alberta has to institute changes in both the operation and financing of these institutions.
An increase in automation would decrease costs by removal of employees from administrative positions. Bureaucrats and executive staff at the top of these places need to be downsized in terms of power, perks, and compensation.
It's ridiculous that we are paying for university presidents in Alberta--- AFTER they leave their position. Why are we providing post job economic out patient care?
Not only do we need to decrease these perks but we also need to be decreasing the number of post secondary institutions.
The fact is that every educational facility should simply be evaluated and the government should decide if it is necessary and if it can be sustainable with current funding models. If the institution isn't essential or sustatainable it should be closed down.
Students may also need to pay more of the costs of post secondary education because taxpayers don't want to do this.
Faculty will have to get used to being contractual workers because in my opinion, tenure is expensive, increases politics and entitlement at these places and we can't get younger faculty in to increase the agility of evolution of these places.
All in all this is just the beginning of the changes required in education at all levels.
Unions are good in some ways but certainly they have prevented such evolution of the system to make it both innovative and sustainable. Hopefully the high debt levels in Alberta will ensure that Alberta Advanced Education folks get off their rumps and alter what currently is -all over Canada---a major waste of tax dollars in the compensation of post secondary staff in both the academic and non-academic sectors. Will this happen? Doubtful.


Ontario’s college faculty strike has cast a new spotlight on an old issue — the question of whether this province is adequately funding its public colleges.The…
NATIONALPOST.COM

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http://nationalpost.com/opinion/columnists/theyve-gutted-the-system-strike-put-spotlight-on-ontarios-college-funding/wcm/f79431ab-f432-4ebf-9dd9-13358589453b

‘They’ve gutted the system’: Strike put spotlight on Ontario's college funding

Picket lines are up at Algonquin College as faculty at Ontario's 24 colleges began a strike.Picket lines are up at Algonquin College as faculty at Ontario's 24 colleges began a strike.Tony Caldwell
Devyn Barrie
Devyn Barrie
November 17, 2017
3:17 PM EST
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Ontario’s college faculty strike has cast a new spotlight on an old issue — the question of whether this province is adequately funding its public colleges.
The union that represents 12,000 faculty across Ontario says colleges are relying too heavily on contract employees to save money and wants to see more full-time teachers hired across the system.
The colleges’ bargaining agent has says there simply isn’t enough money in the system to do that.
“You’re going to add these costs to your business model and somebody’s going to have to pay for it,” said Don Sinclair, CEO of the College Employer Council.
“Students will pick up a portion, and I suspect the taxpayer will, because of the way our funding model works.”
The funding model used to put most of the burden for funding colleges on the government, but has turned in recent decades more to tuition fees as a funding source. In 1992, colleges received 77 per cent of their funding from the government, according to the Canadian Federation of Students — today, the organization says, it’s less than 50 per cent.   
“What’s happening in Ontario is critical underfunding for years,” said Kevin MacKay, a member of OPSEU’s college faculty bargaining team. “They’ve gutted the system in terms of funding and they’ve tried to run it on this completely flexible, precarious (employment) model, and the cracks are showing everywhere.”
About one-third of teachers in Ontario colleges are full-time, compared to two-thirds who are contract and don’t work full-time, according to the College Employer Council.
Only full-time teachers are paid for out-of-class work such as prep and meeting with students, which means contract staff work for free if they do the same. That’s a situation that hurts the quality of students’ education, MacKay said.
“I’ve seen students get less and less time with the professor,” he said. “I know that the more contact we have with students the more likely they are to succeed.”
Numbers from the Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development show that tuition fees have increased much more over the past seven years than government funding to colleges has. In 2010-11, average regular full-time domestic tuition fees were $2,311. By 2016-17, they had increased 23.71 per cent to $2,859.
In its 2017 budget submission to the province, advocacy group Colleges Ontario wrote that, when adjusted for inflation, per-student revenues from both tuition and government grants have declined every year since 2007.
The government does not tie its operating grants to colleges with inflation, which can sometimes mean its increases fall below the rate of inflation.
From 2002 to 2017, operating grants increased by 45 per cent, to $6,624 per domestic student from $4,600 in 2002-03. The rate of inflation for that period in Ontario was 30.8 per cent.
However, the rate at which operating grants increased slowed significantly post-2010. Increases from 2002 to 2010 equaled 36 per cent, with inflation at 16.5 per cent, while increases from 2010 to 2017 were 5.9 per cent, below inflation at 8.91 per cent.
The office of Deb Matthews, minister of advanced education and skills development, declined a request for an interview but said the ministry is working with colleges.
“The financial sustainability of the college sector is very important to our government,” wrote Tanya Blazina, a spokesperson for the ministry, in an email. “We have taken major steps to transform the postsecondary sector and to work toward sustainability.”
In 2015, a review resulted in a new formula, which allocates moneys based on three criteria:
• Enrolment;
• Performance, based on annual surveys and local circumstances; and
• Special purpose grants for issues such as improving access for Indigenous students or those with disabilities.
As of 2017, the funding ratio between tuition revenue and operating grants was about 1:1, Blazina said, although she did not provide the precise percentage breakdown.
“It is important to note that a sizeable proportion of tuition revenue is also supplied through government grants,” Blazina wrote. About half of college students are receiving “free tuition,” meaning the grants they get from student aid exceeds the cost of their fees, she said.
Although the province doesn’t tie college operating grant increases to inflation, it does index Ontario Student Assistance Program living supports to inflation as well as tuition supports to average tuition hikes.
“While the government has not indexed college operating grants to inflation, over the past 15 years it has made substantial investments in the sector with per-student funding growth exceeding increases that would have been driven by inflation alone,” she wrote.
Devyn Barrie is a journalism student at Algonquin College.



Julie Ali · 

While I sympathize with both faculty and students in the post secondary sector, I believe that fundamental changes are required in the operation of our post secondary institutions. It is simply unsustainable to continue the way it is.

I've already written to the Advanced Education Minister in Alberta about changes that could save the system money. Unfortunately no one has the balls to tackle the sacred cows in the post secondary institutions because this would mean that we change the entitlements in the public sector.

The changes that could reduce costs in this sector include the following:

1) Alberta has created a program called ApplyAlberta.
This is fine and dandy in that it allows all students to apply to one site. However all this program has done is to ensure that the mail room is removed. The many workers in the Registrar's offices at all the post secondary institutions are still present and cost us a pretty sum of cash to do what? All sorts of evaluations and decisions about entry into faculties that could be automated.

I've asked the GOA (government of Alberta) to create a Evaluate Alberta program to bypass all these registrars' offices and consolidate evaluation externally but no one is interested.

2) I've asked Advanced Education to evaluate all courses done and set up a real functioning Transfer Alberta program where we don't need agreements between each and every institution to ensure our kids get credit for work done. For example my younger son who is in Digital Media and IT at NAIT (Northern Alberta Institute of Technology) may be able to get 1 year of credit at the University of Calgary for his NAIT diploma. No such credits are offered at the University of Alberta. The University of Waterloo won't even look at his courses unless he has three years of work at a college or technical institute. So ridiculous, arbritary and all about turf protecting.

3) There should be an elimination of tenure.
Sure it is nice to have permanent employment without risks but there is no way we should be continuing with this deal when we are out of cash in Alberta and new faculty can't get into the system because there is no money and no space for them. Folks need to be on contracts. Heck I believe the entire public sector should be contractual work. This way if you aren't providing deliverables, unfortunately you will be subject to termination. If this contractual work was in place, I think we would get better teaching, more agile development of the academic system which like government is entirely political and self serving and finally we might get poor academics weeded out as well as their institutions.

4) There should be fewer post secondary institutions.
This is a mystery to me why we have to have so many of these post secondary institutions that are always yapping about budget cuts in Alberta and increasing their dependence on more lucrative foreign students to keep afloat when the government of Alberta should simply cut loose the institutions without the ability to self sustain itself with the current grants in place.

5) There is an incredible amount of dead wood and bureaucracy at these places that should be eliminated and the unions are part of the problem certainly but I'd say more of the problem rests with the government bureaucrats and the post secondary bureaucrats at the top of each of these places. An incredible amount of cash goes to servicing these upper management and executive positions which could safely be eliminated.

6) Government is doing a poor job of ensuring that these post secondary institutions are giving us value for our tuition dollars. In a true free market place some of these places would be long gone but we are stuck with them because of government cowardice in eliminating these sink holes for cash and the failures of the boards at these places to do more than rubber stamp the decisions of upper management at these places. For example why was MacEwan University subject to fraud recently? Where was the board at this place in this mess? I mean they laid off one of the topdogs after the fact but why were proper financial controls not in place at such a major institution?

https://globalnews.ca/.../macewan-university-loses.../
The fraud led university staff members to transfer $11.8 million to a bank account they believed belonged to the vendor, the university said.

7) Unions are good when they help us with work place protections but when they protect the workers who aren't working this is a problem. Also contractual work will become the way of the future.

While contractual work is hard on folks because you have no ability to plan long term I feel that this is the transition that is now inevitable in the workplace for many of us.
LikeReply11 minsEdited
Eric Dufresne
Perhaps if the public service unions were not sucking up every available tax dollar to pay for egregious benefits there would be sufficient money left in the public coffers to render actual, beneficial and affordable services to the populace.

Just throwing that out there for discussion.

Trolls, please go wild.
LikeReply512 hrs
Theo Groenevelt · 

Not a Troll Eric...TOTALLY Agree.! That I would see Public Service Unions De-Certified Across this country in my lifetime....priceless.

I'm quite sure that a good protion of Ontarios $300B debt can be soley attribted to: A Disgusting waste by the Liberal Party, B: Continuing Disgusting Waste by the Liberal Party and C: More disgusting Waste by the Liberal party.

Much of that going to direct Hire employees and Unions. How the hell does anyone justify $4.5 Million per annum to a CEO of Hydro 1.? and there are likely a few thousand more stories EXACTLY like that.
LikeReply211 hrsEdited
Stephen Green · 

I agree! Public Service Unions are the largest parasites and consumers of taxpayers money. Not only that, but the Public Service in all levels of government enjoy benefits that most Canadians will never see.

Bottom line, Public Service members at all levels are just paid too much.

The other problem is that governments just keep on spending and never address the issues of advancing the cost of living issues,

Both the Federal Trudeau Liberals and clearly the Ontario Liberals are so guilty of screwing the public it is beyond belief. The other Provincial and municipal Governments are not much better.
UnlikeReply211 hrs
Julie Ali · 

Theo Groenevelt Waste is not limited to the Liberals. In Alberta we have had major cash wasted on university presidents with the PCs in charge. We even have to pay for them post employment in Alberta:

http://edmontonsun.com/.../b4fb7d28-e7b6-4d0c-b475...

The University of Alberta’s third-highest earner last year no longer lived or worked in the province.

As part of the administrative leave negotiated in her contracts, past president Indira Samarasekera received $578,315.24 in compensation during 2016, according to the university’s disclosure list.

It’s standard across Canada for university presidents and vice-presidents to have the post-service perk included in their contract. Prior University of Alberta president Rod Fraser left with at least $620,000 in administrative leave pay.
******************
I'd say all political parties are only interested in their own dynasties, will provide effective legislation to corporations and rich folks in the system while ignoring the necessity for representing citizens.

We've had a recent illustration of the propensity of both PCs and now the NDP rubber stamping cash for a junk science project in this case:

PCs:

http://www.cbc.ca/.../pure-north-unproven-benefits-1.4053866

Six days before Alberta Health rushed to deliver a $10-million grant to a private alternative-health foundation, the ministry abruptly changed the grant's purpose, eliminating the need for ethics approval for what experts say was a human-subject experiment on thousands of Alberta seniors.

On Dec. 23, 2013, former Progressive Conservative health minister Fred Horne approved the funding to Pure North S'Energy Foundation to expand an unproven, alternative "wellness" program, ultimately to more than 7,300 seniors.
****
NDP folks:

http://www.cbc.ca/.../alberta-health-cancels-funding-pure...

Following a request in May from Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann, Saher's office said it would include the $4.2 million grant in a review of how Alberta Health approves, pays, and records grants. In June, a spokesperson for the auditor general said no decision had yet been made on whether there will be a separate performance audit to determine if the funding itself was merited and provided value for the public money spent.
**
I can't see how either political party would go against the advice of senior bureaucrats and Alberta Health Services executive staff to hand over taxpayer dollars without an effective decision making tree or rationale but there you go. A disgusting political move on the part of both parties.

So I guess the moral of this Pure North S'Energy Foundation story is that political parties are indifferent to the waste of taxpayer cash and short term decisions are made that don't make any logical sense but serve the political requirements of these political parties.
LikeReply1 min
Julie Ali · 

Stephen Green Debt in Alberta and in Canada is a major issue. Mind you we're not at the trillions of dollars of debt of the USA yet and once that economy goes down the tube our own house of cards will fall.
LikeReplyJust now








https://globalnews.ca/news/3710654/macewan-university-loses-nearly-12m-in-phishing-scam/

August 31, 2017 12:32 pm
Updated: September 1, 2017 10:49 am

MacEwan University defrauded of nearly $12M in phishing scam

By Caley RamsayOnline Journalist Global News
WATCH ABOVE: MacEwan University spokesperson David Beharry said an $11.8-million phishing scam came down to "human error." He said three relatively low-level staff were involved.
- A A +
MacEwan University said its IT systems are secure after the institution was defrauded of nearly $12 million in a phishing scam compounded by human error.
The university learned it was the victim of an attack last Wednesday, Aug. 23 after a series of fraudulent emails “convinced university staff to change electronic banking information for one of the university’s major vendors.”

RELATED

On Friday, Clark Builders — an Edmonton construction and contracting company — confirmed it was the vendor fraudsters posed as in the online attack.
The fraud led university staff members to transfer $11.8 million to a bank account they believed belonged to the vendor, the university said.
MacEwan University spokesperson David Beharry said three relatively low-level staff members were involved in the transfer. He said there was no process in place which required staff members to phone the vendor to confirm the request to change banking information, but that will change.
“We are looking at the levels of staffing it must go through for authorization before somebody changes that,” he said. “There is going to be a secondary and tertiary level of approval before this goes on.
“This incident was a result of human error resulting from a phishing attack.”
Beharry said three separate payments, ranging from $22,000 to $9.9 million, were made to the vendor between Aug. 10 and Aug. 19.
“What we were able to find out is, there were approximately 14 construction firms in the Edmonton area that were targeted,” Beharry said.
“The fraudsters produced these fake domains about these 14 organizations. The organizations would not have any knowledge that somebody is phishing.”
Beharry said all personal and financial information, and all transactions made with the university, are secure.
“The university does not believe there has been any sort of collusion. We really believe this is simply a case of human error, but there is an ongoing investigation.”
More than $11.4 million of the money has been traced to accounts in Canada and Hong Kong. The university said the funds have been frozen while it works with lawyers in an attempt to recover the money.
Beharry said the university is confident it will get the money back.
“It’s a question of: how long will it take for the university to retrieve that money?”
The rest of the money is still missing. Beharry admitted this “shouldn’t have happened in the first place.”
“I think twice about this, too, and I go, ‘How?'” And that’s why we need to fully investigate, because we need to get to the bottom of this to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.
“I think it’s safe to say that there was a lot of disappointment and frustration. Because this came down to human error.”
WATCH BELOW: Security expert David Papp weighs in on MacEwan University falling victim to $12M phishing scam
The president of Kick Point, an Edmonton digital marketing and web design agency, said she was “flabbergasted” when she heard about what happened at MacEwan.
“I’m really shocked that an institution this large could be taken by a scam like this and in such a large amount,” Dana DiTomaso said.
“It’s still a huge amount of money for someone to almost get away with without a lot of oversight and controls.”
She said there’s a perception that phishing scams mainly target personal information, like credit card and password information, but they also affect businesses.
“I think it’s more common than people let on because it doesn’t necessarily get the same kind of attention,” she said. “If a business loses a bunch of money, they’re either a private business and they don’t want to talk about it because it’s embarrassing, or they’re a public business and they have to talk about it but they don’t really want to.
“You don’t hear about the volume of issues that come up on a day-to-day basis.”
The most important advice she can give to anyone in a situation like this is to think twice.
“Think twice before you transfer a bunch of money to somebody else. If it seems iffy, if someone is asking you to do something different than what you would normally do – which is the case here or what seems to be the case here – then check in with somebody else, check in with a bunch of people.”
WATCH BELOW: Serious questions are being raised after MacEwan University fell victim to a $12M phishing scam. Vinesh Pratap reports:
After the fraud was discovered, MacEwan conducted an audit of university business processes. Officials said “controls were put in place” to prevent similar incidents from happening.
Beharry said the university provides information to its staff, students and faculty about these types of scams and other cyber-security related issues. He said it’s important that the university reinforce its messaging.
External experts have been brought in to help the university in its investigation. The university said preliminary investigations reveal that controls in place around the process of changing vendor banking information were inadequate, and that a number of opportunities to identify the fraud were missed.
MacEwan University said final results of the review are expected within a few weeks.
The minister of advanced education and the officer of the auditor general have been made aware of the situation.
Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt said he’s “very disappointed” the university fell victim to the crime, adding he’s instructed all university board chairs to review their financial controls.
“This is unacceptable and I’ve asked the board chair to report back to me by Sept. 15 with details on how this occurred,” Schmidt said in a statement.
“While I’m told that MacEwan has put improved internal financial controls to help prevent it from happening again, I expect post-secondary institutions to do better to protect public dollars against fraud.”
Beharry said it’s too early to say whether the staff members will be disciplined.


http://edmontonsun.com/2017/07/16/university-of-albertas-past-president-still-a-top-earner-at-the-school/wcm/b4fb7d28-e7b6-4d0c-b475-1a8258e9ecac



University of Alberta's past president still a top earner at the school

Janet French
Published:July 16, 2017
Updated:July 16, 2017 11:28 AM MST
Filed Under:



The University of Alberta’s third-highest earner last year no longer lived or worked in the province.
As part of the administrative leave negotiated in her contracts, past president Indira Samarasekera received $578,315.24 in compensation during 2016, according to the university’s disclosure list.
It’s standard across Canada for university presidents and vice-presidents to have the post-service perk included in their contract. Prior University of Alberta president Rod Fraser left with at least $620,000 in administrative leave pay.
While university students are being asked for more tuition dollars and schools trim programs to keep the books balanced, some are asking whether the practice of negotiated contract payments has gotten out of hand.
"I think it’s been obviously distorted recently, and seen as a perk, and a way of attracting people to the job," said David Robinson, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers.
After 10 years as president from 2005 to 2014, Samarasekera was given two years of paid administrative leave, from mid-2015 to mid-2017.
Administrative leaves were first created so professors who served as administrators would have a cushion of time and funding to ramp up their research and prepare to plunge back into teaching, Robinson said. Many outgoing university presidents now are closer to retirement and don’t head back to the classroom or ivory tower.
"For people who work in the public sector, I really don’t think it’s appropriate. I really don’t think it’s a good use of money and value … I think it sends an absolutely wrong signal and is contrary to what the original purpose of administrative leave was supposed to be," Robinson said.
Samarasekera could not be reached for comment.
In a written statement, the University of Alberta’s board of governors said Samarasekera returned to research and pursued "select academic activities" during her leave. She was an unpaid scholar in residence at the University of British Columbia’s Liu Institute for Global Affairs, conducted reviews for other post-secondary institutions, served on volunteer boards, as well as the independent advisory board on federal Senate appointments.
In 2012-13 and 2013-14, Samarasekera faced criticism when her total compensation rose to more than $1 million per year. While she took home one of the highest presidential salaries in the country, the university faced a three per cent funding cut from government and offered voluntary buyout packages to trim costs.
In an interview, university board chairman Michael Phair said the former president’s contract didn’t oblige her to spend her administrative leave in Alberta.
Paige MacPherson, Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said the "golden handshake" expense doesn’t benefit Albertans.
She questioned whether someone earning more than $1 million a year needs such a generous financial cushion to move on to the next venture.
However, Canadian taxpayers may be getting a bargain compared to some other countries. Top university presidents in Australia, the U.S. and England earn substantially more, said consultant Alex Usher, president of Toronto-based Higher Education Strategy Associates.
Highly qualified presidents who adeptly juggle fundraising, management, research, and public expectations are hard to attract, and deserve some danger pay, he said. Unlike public servants, a mistake can prompt instant termination, he said, pointing to the University of British Columbia’s former president Arvind Gupta, who resigned abruptly, and Ilene Busch-Vishniac’s forced exit from the University of Saskatchewan.
As University of Alberta president, Samarasekera oversaw a billion-dollar operation, boosted research capacity, pushed the university closer to becoming a top global institution, and managed "the biggest building site this side of Beijing," Usher said.
Phair said Samarasekera’s contract included salary increases over time and current president David Turpin’s contract does not.
However, Turpin’s contract includes up to an extra $375,000 to be paid out over five years, starting in June 2018, to compensate for administrative leave he lost when moving from the University of Victoria, where he was president for 13 years.
jfrench@postmedia.com













http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/pure-north-unproven-benefits-1.4053866



Alberta rushed $10-million grant, eliminated ethical oversight, for unproven health program

Review found Pure North program could not prove health or economic benefits

By Jennie Russell, Charles Rusnell, CBC News Posted: Apr 04, 2017 5:00 AM MT Last Updated: Apr 04, 2017 5:00 AM MT
Alberta Health determined the alternative health program offered by the private foundation of a Calgary oilman wasn't adequately supported by science and its high doses of supplements could pose a potential health risk — but the government provided a $10-million grant anyway.
Alberta Health determined the alternative health program offered by the private foundation of a Calgary oilman wasn't adequately supported by science and its high doses of supplements could pose a potential health risk — but the government provided a $10-million grant anyway. (CBC)
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Six days before Alberta Health rushed to deliver a $10-million grant to a private alternative-health foundation, the ministry abruptly changed the grant's purpose, eliminating the need for ethics approval for what experts say was a human-subject experiment on thousands of Alberta seniors.
On Dec. 23, 2013, former Progressive Conservative health minister Fred Horne approved the funding to Pure North S'Energy Foundation to expand an unproven, alternative "wellness" program, ultimately to more than 7,300 seniors.
Horne made the decision against the advice of officials from several ministries who had determined the Pure North program was not adequately supported by scientific evidence, could not prove the incredible health and economic benefits it claimed, and could cause adverse health effects in participants. The officials also said no funding should be granted without an ethical review of the entire Pure North program.
"Current research supplied by Pure North is unpublished in peer reviewed medical journals," states an internal Alberta Justice document dated Aug. 28, 2013, less than four months before Horne granted the funding. "It is unclear if the results are clinically significant and lead to better health outcomes."
Horne did not respond to interview requests over the past several weeks.
University of Alberta political scientist Jim Lightbody, an expert in public governance, said there are "tried and true" methods for governments to independently determine whether funding a particular project is valid. That includes substantiating the benefits claimed by the organization requesting funding.
"That is why there are guidelines; that is why there is a competitive process (for funding)," Lightbody said. "And it would seem that there was an end run -  consistently - around any attempt to apply that kind of standard testing to this kind of operation."

Pure North collects health information

Pure North is the private foundation of multi-millionaire Calgary philanthropist Allan Markin, the former chairman of energy giant Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. He declined repeated interview requests from CBC News.
The foundation targets vulnerable populations such as the homeless, addicted, seniors and Indigenous people in such places as homeless shelters and on reserves. Its various health programs offer high-dose vitamins and minerals, lifestyle counselling and, in some cases, treatments to remove heavy metals from participants' blood and mercury-amalgam fillings from their teeth.
None of its alternative treatments are supported by conclusive science.
Pure North collects detailed medical information from its participants, including blood samples, and has built a "mega-database" to which university researchers have been provided access.
The foundation, however, insists it is not conducting research but instead gathers data to gauge the efficacy of its program. Its spokesperson, Stephen Carter, told CBC News the information provided to researchers is simply a "secondary" use of that data.
Carter also claims Pure North has many studies that prove the effectiveness of its program. He said 50,000 people have participated in the program without any safety issues.
Tim Caulfield, director of research for the University of Alberta's Health Law Institute, said if the government had consulted him on whether the Pure North program should be funded, "I would clearly say no.
"I don't think there is any evidence to support, for example, the high doses of vitamin D," he said. "Yes, there is interesting research going on. But there is no evidence to support the funding of this kind of level for this kind of service."

Irregularities in funding agreement process

Thousands of pages of internal government documents obtained by CBC News reveal numerous irregularities in how Alberta Health came to provide the funding to Pure North, including that:
  • For more than a year, the Pure North funding request had been classified, and internally analyzed as a research project. Documents show the research project was supported by then-premier Alison Redford. But the documents contain no explanation for why the ministry abruptly changed the grant's purpose on Dec. 17, six days before Horne signed the funding agreement.
  • The change from health research project to an expansion of Pure North's existing seniors program meant Pure North was not required to obtain independent approval from a research ethics board for its activities.
  • The final grant agreement did not contain any detailed project budget, clear description of the program Pure North would offer to seniors, or specific targets the foundation had to meet.
  • The $10-million grant was inexplicably rushed. "We need to execute it this week," Health chief delivery officer Glenn Monteith told colleagues in a Dec. 17, 2013 email entitled "Urgent meeting." A colleague, Lorraine McKay, issued the directive in an email. "10 million (dollar) grant Pure North - right now. To foundation's efforts to support seniors' initiatives. High level - one year, one time," she said, adding, "bolt in some description material" for the grant.
  • A senior Health official personally walked the ministry's payment request to ATB Financial in downtown Edmonton on Dec. 24, the day after the grant agreement was signed.  
  • Pure North's funding was not "gated" or paid in instalments, based on demonstrable performance measures. Instead, Alberta Health gave Pure North the entire $10 million up front, which some academic researchers say is extraordinary.
  • The documents contain no discussion of the potential liability for the Alberta government should Pure North's program cause any of the adverse health effects senior officials had previously identified. In a review of the Pure North program a year after the program started, Alberta's chief medical officer of health warned of potential liability for the province "should things go wrong."
Pure North spokesperson Stephen Carter acknowledged the request for funding started as a research project, but the focus eventually changed to an established program targeting seniors.
"The Government of Alberta, and Alberta Health in general, isn't interested in funding research projects," Carter said. "They're interested in funding health care for Albertans. So they decided to shift the project and we agreed to shift the project to providing direct health care."
Internal documents, however, show that immediately after Pure North received the funding, Markin began seeking access directly through health minister Fred Horne to anonymized patient data from Alberta Health Services. Markin wanted access to the data so university researchers could assess the efficacy of the recently funded seniors program.
Internal documents show Pure North made repeated requests for funding to the Alberta government, which continued after the NDP assumed power in May 2015.
The program for which Pure North had received the $10-million grant ran for 15 months, ending in March 2015.
As part of the funding agreement, the foundation had to submit both a financial report and a brief progress report every three months. When Pure North submitted its final progress report in late May 2015, it asked for another $4.5 million to continue one part of the program for seniors with special health needs.

"No convincing data" to support claims

In response to the funding request, Alberta Health ordered a review of the Pure North wellness program. Two of three reviewers agreed there was no convincing data to support the claim the program would achieve the health benefits claimed by Pure North. The third reviewer thought a more rigorous review of the program would be needed to either confirm or contradict the foundation's claims.
Two reviewers also raised concerns about the quality of evidence supplied by Pure North. They said much of it was self-reported by participants, there was no evidence any benefits were specifically attributable to the Pure North program, and changes to measures of chronic disease didn't appear large enough to be clinically relevant.
"Placebo effects are very common with nutritional supplements and there are concerns that the program may be overstating the benefits of the supplements, enhancing the placebo effect," a summary of the two reviewers' findings states.
Carter insisted the program was a success. As proof, he cited a study conducted by Herbert Emery of the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy.
Emery's study found participants who stayed in the program for two years significantly reduced their visits to emergency rooms and hospitals, saving the system $276 for each Pure North participant.
But all three independent reviewers found a serious problem with how Pure North calculated savings for the health-care system. They said Pure North told the ministry each client cost the program between $1,280 and $2,300 a year.
When Pure North performed its cost-saving calculations, it "used a cost of $500 per year per client.
"It is unclear how the program could be offered at a dramatically lower cost while maintaining the same results," the reviewers' summary states.
"Based on the absolute reduction in hospital visits (2 per cent), we would need to treat 50 people to avoid a single hospital visit," the review's summary states. "Even using the $500 figure, the program cost would be $25,000 in order to save $1,107 in acute care costs."
Two reviewers said the documentation supplied by Pure North didn't support further investment by the government. The third reviewer couldn't make an evidence-based recommendation but felt a more formal review was warranted "due to the pressing need for community-based health promotion in the province."
NDP Health Minister Sarah Hoffman turned down Pure North's request for further funding of the seniors program based on advice from ministry officials.
In an interview, Hoffman said she had no knowledge of how Pure North came to get the funding from the former Conservative government.
If you have any information about this story, or for another potential story, please contact us in confidence at cbcinvestigates@cbc.ca














http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-health-cancels-funding-pure-north-clinic-1.4200591


Alberta Health cancels funding for Pure North nurse-practitioner clinic

CBC News investigation revealed clinic was offering alternative treatment

By Charles Rusnell, Jennie Russell, CBC News Posted: Jul 11, 2017 5:50 PM MT Last Updated: Jul 12, 2017 11:42 AM MT
Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said Tuesday that the government is cutting funding to Precision Health, the clinic operated by Calgary-based private health foundation Pure North S'Energy.
Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said Tuesday that the government is cutting funding to Precision Health, the clinic operated by Calgary-based private health foundation Pure North S'Energy.
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Photo of Charles Rusnell, Jennie Russell
Charles Rusnell, Jennie Russell
Investigative reporters
Charles Rusnell and Jennie Russell are reporters with CBC Investigates, the award-winning investigative unit of CBC Edmonton. Their journalism in the public interest is widely credited with forcing accountability, transparency and democratic change in Alberta. Send tips in confidence to cbcinvestigates@cbc.ca. @charlesrusnell @jennierussell_

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Health Minister Sarah Hoffman has abruptly cancelled funding for a nurse-practitioner led clinic operated by Pure North, a controversial private health foundation, after a CBC News investigation revealed the clinic offered an unproven alternative treatment to a patient.
In March, Hoffman told CBC News that provincial funding for Pure North's Precision Health clinic would be "at risk" if it offered any of the foundation's controversial alternative treatments, such as high-dose vitamin supplements.
Hoffman cancelled the clinic's funding Tuesday after CBC News publicly revealed a 74-year-old patient had twice been prescribed vitamin D in single doses of 50,000 IU at the foundation's clinic in downtown Calgary earlier this year.
"The goal of this program is to demonstrate an enhanced role for nurse practitioners in our healthcare system, particularly in delivering team-based care to vulnerable Albertans," Hoffman said in a statement emailed to CBC News late Tuesday afternoon.
"I am concerned that the possibility of overlap between this program and other Pure North initiatives is becoming a distraction to this important work with nurse practitioners.
"Alberta Health is ending grant funding for Pure North," Hoffman said. "Our top priority will be to ensure that all current patients continue to be able to access the care they need."
Pure North was set to receive up to a $1.65-million instalment of the total $4.2-million grant around June 30. But a ministry spokesperson earlier this week said the money had not been paid out. According to the funding agreement, the foundation had already received roughly $925,000.

Pure North: Minister's decision 'politically motivated'

Pure North spokesperson Stephen Carter called Hoffman's decision "politically motivated."
"It is an immature decision and it is not taking Albertans' health into consideration," he said.
Carter said the clinic had just received two favourable independent reviews so Hoffman's decision caught them off guard.
"We do think this decision shows a lack of commitment to actually bending the healthcare cost curve. Instead this government is committed to a higher-cost, less-effective treatment structure for patients," he said, adding that the NDP government feared bad publicity more than it valued making good decisions on behalf of Albertans.
Wildrose accountability critic Nathan Cooper called Hoffman's cancellation of the funding "a good step in the right direction." But he said the reason she gave for her decision was problematic.
"I think that the minister needs to hold people to account for the resources that are being spent, and (ensure) that those programs are doing the right thing," Cooper said, adding that the Pure North grant should not have been cancelled simply because it was "politically challenging or a 'distraction.'"
He said Hoffman and the ministry now need to follow up with Precision Health patients if there are any concerns about the care they received under the grant agreement. The ministry is now requesting anyone with concerns to contact it.
In a June interview, Carter initially denied - three times - that the Precision Health clinic offers any supplements.
But when told CBC News had proof a patient had been prescribed vitamin D by a Precision Health nurse practitioner, Carter said providing supplements like high-dose vitamin D is within their scope of practice. He also said Pure North doesn't provide any instructions to Precision Health nurse practitioners about the services they choose to provide to their patients.
"The practitioner did nothing wrong; we stand by that," Carter said Tuesday, adding that the decisions made by the nurse practitioner were in the "best interests of the patient."
The nurse practitioner previously told CBC News it was in her scope of practice to offer vitamin D as a treatment at the publicly funded clinic.
Pure North has repeatedly said vitamin D at high doses is safe and is not an alternative treatment.

Auditor general to conduct review

While Precision Health's funding has been cancelled, the ministry's grant agreement with Pure North is still to be scrutinized by Alberta Auditor General Merwan Saher.
Following a request in May from Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann, Saher's office said it would include the $4.2 million grant in a review of how Alberta Health approves, pays, and records grants. In June, a spokesperson for the auditor general said no decision had yet been made on whether there will be a separate performance audit to determine if the funding itself was merited and provided value for the public money spent.
Alberta's ethics commissioner, Marguerite Trussler, has also been asked by the Opposition Wildrose to conduct an investigation into whether Alberta Health Deputy Minister Carl Amrhein fully disclosed his relationship with Pure North.
The Wildrose made the request after CBC News revealed Amrhein, who signed the Precision Health grant agreement on behalf of the ministry, was a participant in the Pure North wellness program and had lobbied for the foundation while he was official administrator of Alberta Health Services.
Trussler's office has said the commissioner is prevented by law from disclosing the existence of an investigation.
The ethics commissioner previously told CBC News that Amrhein disclosed his participation in the Pure North wellness program to her. Trussler also said Amrhein told her he merely signed the agreement in his capacity as deputy minister, after Hoffman had signed off.
If you have any information about this story, or information for another story, please contact us in confidence at cbcinvestigates@cbc.ca.