A Brief Timeline of Changes at the Top of Alberta Health Services


At the height of a crisis in the emergency department, Duckett walks past reporters and refuses to answer questions, saying he was too busy. “I eat my cookie”, he repeated several times

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May 15, 2008: Conservative Health Minister Ron Liepert dismantles nine health regions and creates Alberta Health Services, a single, centralized health authority based on a corporate governance model. Liepert later said the caucus made the decision in one day, with the dissolution of regional councils being done overnight.

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January 2009: The province announces that it has hired Australian health policy expert Stephen Duckett as the first CEO of AHS. Ken Hughes is appointed Chairman of the Board.


November 2010: At the height of a crisis in the emergency department, Duckett walks past reporters and refuses to answer questions, saying he was too busy. “I eat my cookie” he said many times. The super council boss – who later said he had been muzzled by the government for not speaking to the media about concerns over emergencies – is being pushed out. Duckett’s departure triggers a massive board reshuffle as four AHS board members step down, blaming political interference.


April 2011: Longtime Calgary anesthesiologist and health administrator Dr. Chris Eagle is named CEO in place of Duckett. It promises a new, more decentralized structure. Five new zones are created.

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February 2012: Health Quality Council of Alberta CEO Dr. John Cowell releases damning 428-page report raising concerns about dangerously long waits in emergency rooms, a culture of ‘fear and alienation’ and political interference.

September 2012: The province appoints Stephen Lockwood, businessman and AHS board member, as chair of the AHS board of directors, replacing Ken Hughes, who stepped down to run for provincial elections. Lockwood later clashes with the government.


June 2013: Health Minister Fred Horne fires Lockwood and the entire 10-member board in a dispute over executive pay. He immediately appoints veteran health administrator Janet Davidson to the new role of official administrator of AHS. Since the nine regional boards five years earlier, authority for the operations of the entire health system has been consolidated in the hands of a single person.

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September 2013: With a searing review of AHS governance in hand, Horne embarks on another health authority executive shuffle, ordering the agency to drastically reduce the ranks of its vice presidents, lay off five senior managers and fine-tuning its entire health management structure. Horne appoints Davidson Deputy Minister of Health. Cowell takes the position of official administrator of AHS.

  1. On Thursday, November 17, 2022, the Government of Alberta announced that Dr. John Cowell would immediately assume the duties of the Alberta Health Services Board.

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March 2014: Newfoundland and Labrador Health Executive Vickie Kaminski is appointed President and CEO of AHS.

September 2014: Davidson resumes the position of Acting Official Administrator following the end of Cowell’s one-year term.

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November 2014: Carl Amrhein, provost and vice-president academic at the University of Alberta, becomes official administrator of the AHS. His term is due to end in June 2015.

March 18, 2015: Health Minister Stephen Mandel announces that the province will establish eight to ten new health districts by July 1. Each district will receive guidance from a local advisory board.


May 2015: The NDP defeats the Conservatives in the provincial election and moves quickly to undo Mandel’s plan to revamp AHS.

August 25, 2015: Former Lethbridge Mayor David Carpenter is named the new AHS Administrator for Amrhein, who becomes Deputy Minister of Health.

October 23, 2015: Health Minister Sarah Hoffman reinstates the AHS board structure, and this time it’s led by former Edmonton Journal publisher and University of Ottawa chancellor. Alberta, Linda Hughes.

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April 4, 2022: President and Chief Executive Officer Verna Yiu, first hired in 2016, is fired. UCP health minister Jason Copping said the change would accelerate the government’s ambitious plan to revamp healthcare, including contracting out more publicly funded surgeries to private facilities in the goal of reducing waiting lists. Mauro Chies, vice president of Cancer Care Alberta and Clinical Support Services, becomes interim CEO.

November 17, 2022: After succeeding Jason Kenney as Prime Minister and leader of the PCU, Prime Minister Danielle Smith keeps her election promise pull the board, then seated at 11 members. Dr. John Cowell is installed as administrator for the second time in less than 10 years, this time tasked with reducing wait times in emergency rooms and for surgeries, and improving EMS response times.

Copping says the council will be restored “when the time is right”.

-With Postmedia files

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