CANADA Alberta government to change bonus rules after Hinshaw's massive...

Alberta government to change bonus rules after Hinshaw’s massive payout during COVID-19

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Alberta Treasury Secretary Jason Nixon said the public service has been instructed to review and amend bonus rules so that future bonuses during emergencies go through cabinet for approval. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)

The Alberta government is tightening rules on employee bonuses in light of the six-figure payoff to the Chief Health Officer during COVID-19.

Treasury Secretary Jason Nixon said the public service has been instructed to review and amend the rules so that future emergency bonus payments go through the cabinet for approval.

“The public service should not be able to unilaterally approve significant overtime payments of this size,” Nixon said in a statement Thursday.

“The Public Service Commission has been instructed to conduct a full policy review to ensure that future emergency overtime payments go through the cabinet.

“Until the review is completed and the new policy is confirmed, all future requests will be forwarded to the Treasury Board. [headed up by Nixon] revise.”

The CBC, gleaning information from the government payroll, said on Monday that Dr. Dina Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer, received a bonus of almost $228,000 for her work with COVID-19 in 2021, the highest cash payment of any provincial government. employee since the list was made public six years ago.

This figure, on top of her regular salary, gives Hinshaw over $591,000.

The opposition NDP and public sector unions called the payout a serious insult to frontline medical workers who had to work during the COVID-19 pandemic while the government tried to cut their wages or even try to cut their jobs.

The payout also drew the ire of some members of the ruling United Conservative Party, who have long criticized Hinshaw for her role in what they saw as intrusive and unnecessary health restrictions and vaccination regulations during the pandemic.

Then Treasury Secretary Travis Toews is now one of seven candidates running for Prime Minister Jason Kenney in a party vote scheduled for October 6.

Toews said he was unaware of the payout and said he would also make changes so that the cabinet would have the final say on such bonuses.

The NDP says Toews must have known about the payout and claims he is either lying or not clear on the department he was supposed to be in charge of.

“The treasury secretary needs to know about the provincial finances,” NDP critic Sarah Hoffman told reporters in Edmonton on Thursday.

“I’m not surprised that Jason Nixon is trying to come up with lines to back off and try to distance himself from the culprits. [of] Travis Toews and others are sitting at this cabinet table.”

The payment was one of the COVID-19 bonuses paid out to 107 management employees, totaling $2.4 million.

Alberta Health said in a statement that Hinshaw was paid in accordance with long-standing emergency-related policies and financial calculations based on hours worked.

“Given the scale of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Hinshaw required an extraordinarily large amount of additional work,” the statement said.

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