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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Alberta Health Services tried to improve image, but report was scrapped: NDP

EDMONTON - The New Democrats have released an internal Alberta Health Services report which they say shows the health superboard was using a consulting company to try to improve its image.

NDP health critic David Eggen says the paper discussed the need for the agency to distance itself from the governing Progressive Conservatives to avoid political scandal.

Eggen says the report, which was acquired under freedom-of information legislation, was ordered by the board of AHS and partially completed at a cost of $25,000.

But it was scrapped last summer when Health Minister Fred Horne fired the board over bonuses that were paid to executives.

Eggen and Wildrose health critic Heather Forsyth call the report a waste of money and say the best way to improve the government's reputation would be to improve health care.

Alberta Health officials were not immediately available for comment.

Eggen said the report shows that AHS is nothing more than a smokescreen for the government and its health-care decisions.

"This report shows that AHS only exists to shield the government from the problems that Alberta families have all the time in the health-care system," he said Wednesday.

"Albertans deserve answers about this waste of our money and the government's continued unwillingness to take responsibility for health care in this province."

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