Wednesday, May 24, 2017

-Swann asked Hoffman what she knew about the health safety concerns before she signed the grant. She ignored the question.------Cooper said it is "concerning" that AHS has detailed safety concerns with the Pure North program, yet Hoffman does not appear to be investigating them.------------The briefing note specifically warns Hoffman and Yiu about an incident, identified by CBC News as occurring at the Calgary Drop-In Centre in 2013, in which AHS dietitians raised concerns about Pure North's supplement program.----------In a March interview with CBC News, Hoffman said she knew nothing about serious health safety issues identified in government documents related to the Calgary-based Pure North S'Energy Foundation before she approved a $4.2-million grant to the foundation in October 2016 for a primary-care clinic. On April 10, in response to questions from Wildrose MLA Tany Yao, Hoffman told the legislature she still had no specific knowledge of health risks associated with the foundation's alternative health program. But an Alberta Health Services (AHS) briefing note shows that on Sept. 28, 2016 — a month before her ministry signed the $4.2-million grant agreement — Hoffman's office was told health officials had previously identified the "potential for negative health effects" resulting from the foundation's distribution of high-dose supplements to vulnerable populations. "Either she has misrepresented the facts inside the house, or her staff haven't provided her with the appropriate information, both of which should be very concerning," Wildrose accountability critic Nathan Cooper said in an interview.-------In his letter to the auditor general, dated May 5, Swann wrote, "my office has conducted a preliminary review into the matter and, after having spoken to several stakeholders, I believe that there is sufficient grounds for concern, especially as it relates to the potential public health risks the vitamin supplement program may cause to a vulnerable population."-----Wildrose accountability critic Nathan Cooper said the auditor general should review both grants awarded to Pure North. Like Azocar, he said the government must investigate safety concerns raised about the Pure North program. "Patient safety is obviously the number one priority," Cooper said. "And health dollars should be spent based upon the best science available.----------


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CATS CRADLE 15336




Julie Ali
Just now
Of captive political parties and failed governance. No one is interested in the waste of cash that is exemplified by the orphan well program "loan" and the handouts to the Pure North folks.
It's mind boggling to me that the most vulnerable citizens in Alberta are not only ignored in the continuing care system but are being used as human experimental animals with the full complicity to the public health folks in Alberta. This junk was not tolerated in BC with reference to Pure North but went ahead in Alberta with the dismissal of the ethical review that was required for this junk simply by conversion of the project to a program. With such magical feints are we made into guinea pigs. No one cares at Alberta Health despite their ongoing fervent chatter of caring. I mean even with a memo detailing the problems, the Hoffman goes on to repeat the Horne mistake and adds $4.2 million to the handout pile. Wow. It's clear to me that we have major problems in the ability to distinguish a real science project from health mumbo jumbo projects. And it's even clearer to me that the oversight is absent if a project that required strict oversight is turned into a program that doesn't need any oversight.
Julie Ali
Just now
Well at least we don't have in your face waste of money as was the case of the Redford's Sky Palace.But certainly it is troubling that we are giving away $235 million of our cash that will be probably "forgiven" in the future to the oil and gas industry's orphan well program. It is portrayed to us as a job creation problem. This is amusing. We have the oil and gas industry cutting jobs so as to maintain profits for shareholders. We have them fail to do their job in terms of the remediation of the pollution they create. Now we encourage them to do their own fricking orphan well program with an infusion of public dollars. The astonishing lack of interest in the public interest by the so called little guy and little gal party of the NDP continues the failed governance of the indifferent PCs that did not pretend at least to represent us.
Nope. It's all about the private interest in Alberta. Not only are we forking over major cash to the richest industry in Alberta that has billions of dollars in assets and could jolly well pay for the orphan well program itself but we are told that the remediation of the tailings ponds is ongoing when it has been in stasis for most of the tenure of the PCs. What is only clear to this taxpayer is that the political parties are held captive to the real government in Alberta which appears to be big oil. And even when the oil men retire and form foundations, they still get the money as in the case of Pure North. It's all a widespread helping circle in Alberta for the private sector with my only question being-how does government pay for all these poor decisions? Is there any money left in the Heritage Trust Fund? Or are our children doing the indentured slave business to pay off these liabilities?
It is not only the giveaway to the oil and gas industry in the area of subsidies and "loans" to the orphan well program that should be of concern to all Albertans.
Why did the folks at Alberta Health--especially Mr. Horne and Ms. Hoffman approve the transfer of $14.2 million to the Pure North folks?
It's troubling that we have people making decisions that impact public health and lack ethical reviews.
It's also troubling that we cannot hold Mr. Horne to account for his failed performance in this decision which resulted in $10 million given up front for what?
What did Albertans get for this money?
Now we have the Hoffman giving $4.2 million and not answering questions if she knew about the problems associated with this money transfer that was fully elucidated to her by the folks at AHS.
Why won't she tell us why she approved this money transfer despite the lack of evidence that this program was anything other than hogwash?

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-health-sarah-hoffman-pure-north-ethics-david-swann-1.4118793

Alberta health minister dodges questions about her deputy's relationship with private foundation

Wildrose has requested ethics investigation of Carl Amrhein’s ties to Pure North

By Jennie Russell, Charles Rusnell, CBC News Posted: May 16, 2017 5:35 PM MT Last Updated: May 17, 2017 10:14 AM MT
Health Minister Sarah Hoffman told the legislature Tuesday she understood that her deputy had disclosed his involvement with Pure North to the province's ethics commissioner.
Health Minister Sarah Hoffman told the legislature Tuesday she understood that her deputy had disclosed his involvement with Pure North to the province's ethics commissioner. (CBC)
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Under growing pressure from opposition critics, Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman continued to deflect questions about her deputy minister's allegedly inappropriate relationship with a private health foundation that recently received millions of dollars in public funding.
Hoffman's grilling in the legislature Tuesday afternoon followed a formal request from the official Opposition Wildrose for an investigation by Alberta's ethics commissioner into the relationship between Alberta Health deputy minister Carl Amrhein and the Pure North S'Energy Foundation.
In a letter to Ethics Commissioner Marguerite Trussler, Wildrose accountability critic Nathan Cooper, and the party's health critic Tany Yao, asked for a full investigation.
"Albertans want to know that decisions aren't being made within the health department because of personal relationships or cronyism," Cooper said in a news release.
Carl Amrhein
Deputy health minister Carl Amrhein participated in Pure North S’Energy Foundation’s alternative health program. (CBC)
Ten hours after a CBC News request for comment, Alberta Health spokesperson Cam Traynor replied on Amrhein's behalf, saying he "already disclosed his involvement with Pure North to the ethics commissioner when he became deputy minister."
Traynor added that Amrhein will "fully cooperate" with any review by the ethics commissioner.
CBC News has previously revealed close ties between Amrhein and Pure North, a Calgary-based foundation that provides alternative health treatments, including high doses of supplements like vitamin D.

Deputy minister had close ties to foundation

Internal Alberta Health documents revealed Amrhein participated in the Pure North program while deputy minister and met personally with its founder, multi-millionaire philanthropist Allan Markin.
Several sources also told CBC News that Amrhein lobbied Alberta Health for more funding for Pure North while in his previous role as official administrator of Alberta Health Services, the operating arm of the ministry.
While provost of the University of Alberta, Amrhein provided two letters of support for Pure North, one used by  the foundation in its appeal to the government for public funding.
In December 2013, Progressive Conservative minister of health Fred Horne approved a $10-million grant to Pure North against the advice of ministry officials, who had determined the foundation's program was not adequately supported by science, could not prove the health and economic outcomes Pure North claimed, and may cause adverse reactions in participants.
In October 2016, Amrhein signed, on behalf of the ministry, a $4.2-million grant with Pure North for a nurse-practitioner-led primary care clinic. Hoffman has said the clinic will not offer any of its alternative treatments or its funding could be put at risk.
Trussler said Amrhein told her the decision on funding Pure North was made elsewhere and he merely signed the agreement in his capacity as deputy minister, after Hoffman had approved the funding.
Dr. David Swann
Alberta Liberal Leader Dr. David Swann, a former medical officer of health, asked the health minister in the legislature Tuesday if she knew about her deputy's participation in, and lobbying for, the Pure North program. (CBC)
In the legislature Tuesday, Liberal Leader David Swann asked Hoffman if she knew about Amrhein's participation in, and lobbying for, the Pure North program, and if so, when.
Hoffman said she understood Amrhein disclosed his involvement with Pure North to the ethics commissioner.
"If the ethics commissioner wishes to look into this further, we certainly welcome that," Hoffman said, adding later that she could not recall any conversations about Amrhein's involvement with the foundation.
Amrhein, through a spokesperson, earlier said he "fully disclosed" his relationship with Pure North to the ethics commissioner when he became deputy minister in August 2015. Trussler confirmed Amrhein disclosed his participation in the Pure North program but said she could not legally reveal if he had disclosed anything else.

Auditor general asked to review grant

Hoffman's own conduct was also questioned Tuesday. She had previously said she knew nothing about serious health safety issues identified in government documents related to Pure North before she approved the $4.2-million grant to the foundation in October 2016.
But an Alberta Health Services briefing note shows that on Sept. 28, 2016 — a month before her ministry signed the grant agreement — Hoffman's office was told health officials had previously identified the "potential for negative health effects" resulting from the foundation's distribution of high-dose supplements to vulnerable populations.
Swann asked Hoffman what she knew about the health safety concerns before she signed the grant. She ignored the question.
The Wildrose letter to Trussler marks the second opposition request for an investigation related to Pure North. Earlier this month, Swann, a former medical officer of health, asked the auditor general to conduct an audit of the $10-million grant.
No decision has yet been made about whether an audit will be conducted, a spokesperson for the auditor general said Tuesday.
Despite the concerns of public health officials, Pure North points to research studies it says show the program is safe and effective.
If you have any information about this story, or for another potential story, please contact us in confidence at cbcinvestigates@cbc.ca.
@charlesrusnell



Why won't she explain the role of the deputy health minister in this mess? I mean to the ordinary citizen like myself its absolutely shocking that bureaucrats can fart around on our dime for this sort of work on behalf of foundations that don't appear -at least to this mummy --to be good value for our taxpayer dollars. I am curious why this sort of junk is tolerated on the job by the health minister. Certainly if I was in her boots, I'd be asking tough questions and getting the answers out to the public. I'm not satisfied by the lack of answers and certainly this ongoing transfer of money to this lacklustre foundation--- feels inappropriate.




http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/carl-amrhein-pure-north-unproven-alberta-1.4068844
CBC INVESTIGATES

Alberta Health deputy minister's relationship with private foundation 'not professional': expert

Carl Amrhein endorsed and participated in Pure North alternative health program

By Jennie Russell, Charles Rusnell, CBC News Posted: Apr 13, 2017 7:00 AM MT Last Updated: Apr 20, 2017 9:48 AM MT
Deputy health minister Carl Amrhein participated in Pure North S’Energy Foundation’s alternative health program.
Deputy health minister Carl Amrhein participated in Pure North S’Energy Foundation’s alternative health program. (CBC)
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About The Author

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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Alberta Health deputy minister Carl Amrhein personally endorsed, and participated in, an unproven alternative health program offered by a private foundation that recently received a multimillion-dollar grant that he signed on behalf of the ministry.
A CBC News investigation has uncovered a years-long relationship between Amrhein, the Pure North S'Energy Foundation of Calgary, and its founder Allan Markin that an expert in public governance said was clearly unprofessional.
"The essence of a professional relationship with a client, or with an organization that is seeking money, is called arm's length," University of Alberta political scientist Jim Lightbody said.
"You have a job and you are not, as a public servant — particularly if you are a senior public servant — at the beck and call of some private interest, no matter how well financed," he added.
Jim Lightbody
University of Alberta political scientist Jim Lightbody said the close relationship between health deputy minister Carl Amrhein and Pure North was “not professional.” (CBC)
"This is not a professional relationship," Lightbody said after reviewing internal Alberta Health and University of Alberta documents obtained by CBC News through freedom of information.

Disclosed Pure North participation

Amrhein declined interview requests. But the health ministry issued a statement that simply said: "Amrhein's involvement with Pure North was fully disclosed to the ethics commissioner when he became deputy minister. All records indicate that subsequent decisions regarding funding for Pure North followed the advice of external and departmental experts."
Ethics commissioner Marguerite Trussler told CBC News that when Amrhein became deputy minister in August 2015, he disclosed to her office that he was a participant in Pure North's alternative health program.
But she refused to say whether Amrhein had disclosed anything more about his relationship with the health foundation, saying she was bound by provincial legislation and only had permission from Amrhein to reveal he had disclosed his participation in Pure North's health program.
Trussler said she questioned Amrhein about his signing of an October 2016 grant, worth $4.2 million, for a nurse-practitioner-led clinic for Pure North. She said Amrhein told her the decision was made elsewhere and he merely signed the agreement in his capacity as deputy minister, after the minister had signed off.
The ethics commissioner said her questioning of Amrhein took place "recently." But she could not say whether it was after CBC News published stories on Pure North last week.
Health Minister Sarah Hoffman's press secretary, Tim Wilson, did not respond to questions from CBC News about whether Amrhein had disclosed his prior relationship with Pure North to the minister, and to his senior staff.
Sarah Hoffman
Health Minister Sarah Hoffman refused to say whether deputy minister Carl Amrhein had disclosed his previous relationship with Pure North to her. (CBC)

Deputy minister arranged to have blood drawn

The internal government and university documents detail a close relationship between Amrhein, Markin and Pure North dating back years to when Amrhein was provost of the university, to which Markin was a major donor.
Most disturbing for Lightbody were documents that show Amrhein, while deputy health minister, and his wife planned to become participants in the Pure North program.
Emails from early January 2016 show Markin wanted a personal meeting with Amrhein that would require Amrhein to drive to the Edmonton airport late on a Sunday afternoon.
"The smaller the group the better I think," Amrhein wrote in an email to Wendy Paramchuk, Pure North's executive director, from his official government account. "I assume that the discussion will be high level since I do not manage operating details."  
Amrhein also told Paramchuk he planned to bring his wife to the meeting, hopefully so they could have their blood taken. Pure North collects blood from its participants to determine individual treatment plans, often involving high doses of supplements such as vitamin D.
"We will set up to have our nurse practitioner there to take both your and [your wife's] blood and do a medical intake," Paramchuk replied in an email written the day before the Jan. 3 meeting.
"If possible, if you could both fast for eight hours that would be ideal," Paramchuk continued. "If not, that is okay; we will still take your blood."
"Dear Wendy, okay, I copied [my wife] on this note," Amrhein replied.

Reference letter for Pure North

Pure North is a privately run, non-profit foundation established by Markin that claims it can prevent chronic disease and improve health through its alternative treatments, which include high doses of vitamin D and other supplements and the removal of heavy metals from the body.  
The foundation focuses its work on vulnerable populations such as seniors, the homeless and drug users, and has for years sought a financial partnership with the provincial government. It also funds nutrition and health research at universities.
With donations of more than $20 million, Markin is one of the University of Alberta's biggest donors. Before Amrhein became deputy minister, he was provost at the University of Alberta and documents show he met personally with Markin several times dating back to 2011.
'The essence of a professional relationship with a client, or with an organization that is seeking money, is called arm's length ... this is not a professional relationship.'- Jim Lightbody, political scientist, University of Alberta
In July 2014, as provost, Amrhein wrote a letter of support for Pure North and Markin that lauded the research data — and financial support — Pure North had given his university's academics.
"It has been a privilege to be able to work with Mr. Allan Markin and the Pure North S'Energy Foundation and we look forward to seeing all the program outcomes analyzed in a rigorous manner that meets the highest scientific standards," Amrhein wrote. "If I can supply any further information regarding this outstanding supporter of research, please do not hesitate to contact me directly."
Internal Alberta Health documents show Pure North used Amrhein's letter in September 2014, and again in December 2014, to bolster funding requests to the Progressive Conservative government.

Foundation seeks government funding

In November 2014, Amrhein left the university to become official administrator of Alberta Health Services (AHS). Five days before he left AHS to become deputy minister of health in August 2015, Paramchuk sent an email to two faculty members in the University of Alberta's School of Public Health.
"We have asked the [health] ministry to financially support our program to be delivered to the vulnerable population of Alberta," she wrote in the email.
"This suggestion came from Carl Amrhein," Paramchuk said, and asked the faculty members to review information that Pure North intended to submit to the ministry in support of its funding request.
Duff Conacher of Democracy Watch, a non-partisan watchdog organization, said he believes Amrhein's reference letter in support of Pure North belies bias and creates a potential conflict of interest.
Conacher
Duff Conacher of Democracy Watch said health deputy minister Carl Amrhein should not have been involved in any decisions related to Pure North. (CBC)
"He stated it; that he favours the foundation," Conacher said. "It adds to that conflict of interest if he is actually taking part and receiving the services from the foundation.
"And combined together, I think it clearly crosses the line in both the [provincial Conflicts of Interest] Act and the Code [of conduct for ministers' staff], and he should not have been taking part in any decisions that affected the foundation, that the government was making," he said.
Pure North had previously received public funding. As CBC News reported earlier this month, Alberta Health gave Pure North a $10-million grant in December 2013 to expand its existing seniors program — against the advice of senior ministry officials who said the foundation's alternative treatments were not adequately supported by science and could pose a health risk to participants.
A subsequent review by three independent experts found Pure North couldn't prove its program produced any of the health or economic benefits it claimed.
CBC News also reported that senior Alberta Health Services officials were informed in July 2013 of a serious potential health risk that provincial dietitians believed could have been caused by Pure North's lax distribution of high-dose supplements at the Calgary Drop-In Centre.
When the NDP assumed power in 2015, Health Minister Sarah Hoffman refused, based on advice from her officials, to extend funding to Pure North for its seniors program beyond the $10 million provided by the previous government.

Multi-million-dollar grant agreement

But internal documents show Pure North then began requesting changes to health-care policy that would directly benefit the foundation and further its aims. On several occasions, Markin and Paramchuk communicated directly with Amrhein.
Amrhein directed his staff to research several policy changes requested by Pure North, including making vitamin D an insured drug and allowing nurse practitioners to bill for primary care services provided by the foundation.
None of the policy changes were implemented, although the documents reveal senior ministry officials expended significant resources researching them and dealing directly with Markin. Conacher said Amrhein should not have been involved in any decisions related to Pure North, given his previous support of the foundation.
'He stated it; that he favours the foundation ... it adds to that conflict of interest if he is actually taking part and receiving the services from the foundation.'- Duff Conacher, Democracy Watch
In a Jan. 15, 2016 email, Markin expresses frustration to Amrhein that progress on several policy changes requested by Pure North had been "stymied" by ministry officials.
"As an ally for preventive care, I am calling on you to intervene immediately and send direction to your officials to urgently pursue solutions that will deliver preventive care for our province's most vulnerable citizens," Markin told Amrhein.
Pure North did, however, eventually receive support from the NDP government. In October 2016, Alberta Health finalized a grant agreement — signed by Amrhein — with Pure North to provide the $4.2 million over several years for the nurse-practitioner-led, primary-care clinic in Calgary.
Earlier this month, Hoffman told CBC News she was unaware of any previous public-health safety concerns related to Pure North. She also said the clinic's funding would be jeopardized if it was found to offer any alternative health treatments.
If you have any information about this story, or for another story, please contact us in confidence at cbcinvestigates@cbc.ca.
@charlesrusnell

It's clear to me at least that both these decisions by health ministers were not made according to any logical decision making tree that can hold up  under scrutiny.
Very troubling.
It is especially troubling that despite the first mistake made by the Horne guy that the Hoffman goes ahead with the second decision to throw more money at this foundation:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/sarah-hoffman-pure-north-alberta-health-1.4116502

The briefing note specifically warns Hoffman and Yiu about an incident, identified by CBC News as occurring at the Calgary Drop-In Centre in 2013, in which AHS dietitians raised concerns about Pure North's supplement program.

***********
I support the request for an audit and I believe if this audit detects problems in the decision making tree at Alberta Health there should be changes stat with consequences for the poor decisions made to date. Why are government resources being used for example by the deputy health minister to review the ways to fund an organization?

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/liberal-leader-david-swann-calls-for-audit-of-alberta-health-grant-to-pure-north-private-health-foundation-1.4110951

Liberal Leader David Swann calls for audit of Alberta Health grant to Pure North private health foundation

Swann cites 'potential public health risks' posed by Pure North supplement program

By Jennie Russell, Charles Rusnell, CBC News Posted: May 11, 2017 2:13 PM MT Last Updated: May 11, 2017 2:13 PM MT
Alberta Liberal Leader Dr. David Swann, a former medical officer of health, says he requested an audit because the public “needs to be assured" that millions of dollars in grants to Pure North were handed out for the right reasons.
Alberta Liberal Leader Dr. David Swann, a former medical officer of health, says he requested an audit because the public “needs to be assured" that millions of dollars in grants to Pure North were handed out for the right reasons. (CBC)
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Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann has asked the auditor general to conduct an audit of Alberta Health's $10-million grant to Pure North S'Energy, a private health foundation that offers unproven alternative health treatments.  
In a news release issued Thursday, Swann, a former medical officer of health, said he requested the audit because the public "needs to be assured that millions of dollars of taxpayer money were given for the right reasons and for a program that has a demonstrated track record of improving health."
CBC News reported last month that Alberta Health gave Pure North a $10-million grant to expand its program, which featured high doses of vitamin D and the removal of mercury dental fillings, ultimately to 7,300 mostly low-income seniors.
Fred Horne
Former health minister Fred Horne, against ministry advice, gave Pure North a $10 million grant in December 2013 to expand the foundation’s seniors program. (CBC)
Internal government documents show former Progressive Conservative health minister Fred Horne approved the funding against the advice of ministry officials.
The officials determined the Pure North program was not adequately supported by science, could not prove the health and economic outcomes it claimed, and may cause adverse reactions in participants. The foundation focuses on vulnerable populations such as the homeless, addicted and elderly, and operates free clinics in such places as homeless shelters and on Indigenous reserves.
In his letter to the auditor general, dated May 5, Swann wrote, "my office has conducted a preliminary review into the matter and, after having spoken to several stakeholders, I believe that there is sufficient grounds for concern, especially as it relates to the potential public health risks the vitamin supplement program may cause to a vulnerable population."
CBC News also reported last month that the rationale for the grant was inexplicably changed from a research project to simply an expansion of the program. The change meant there was no ethical oversight of the program.

Health advocate says minister should review program

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 insists it is not conducting research but instead gathers data to gauge the efficacy of its program. Its spokesperson, Stephen Carter, has 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.
Friends of Medicare executive director Sandra Azocar supported Swann's call for an audit. But she stressed Health Minister Sarah Hoffman has a responsibility to independently investigate the potential effects of the Pure North program on vulnerable Albertans.
"It is a concern that nobody is giving a voice to all the people that could potentially have been impacted," Azocar said, adding that Pure North distributed packets of high-dose supplements to vulnerable Albertans.
"Who is speaking for them?" Azocar said.

Health deputy minister lobbied for Pure North funding

Earlier Thursday, CBC News reported that several former senior civil servants said Alberta Health deputy minister Carl Amrhein had openly lobbied for funding for Pure North while he was official administrator of Alberta Health Services, the operating arm of the ministry. Some of the former civil servants said they told Amrhein he was in a conflict of interest.
Carl Amrhein
Several sources told CBC that Alberta Health deputy minister Carl Amrhein personally lobbied for more funding for Pure North, an alternative health foundation, while he was official administrator of Alberta Health Services. (CBC)
CBC News has revealed Amrhein and his wife were both participants in the Pure North program and that Amrhein, while deputy minister, had met privately with Allan Markin, the wealthy Calgary philanthropist who founded and largely funds Pure North.
In October 2016, Amrhein signed, on behalf of the ministry, a $4.2 million grant to Pure North for a nurse-practitioner clinic.
Both Amrhein and Health Minister Sarah Hoffman have refused to answer questions about the alleged lobbying and conflict of interest.
Azocar, of the Friends of Medicare, said the government has a duty to provide answers.
"I think the more that we know and the more that we hear about this story, there becomes more of a need for us to actually get some answers as to how this request for money, and the money that was previously allocated to this company, all came down," she said.
Wildrose accountability critic Nathan Cooper said the auditor general should review both grants awarded to Pure North. Like Azocar, he said the government must investigate safety concerns raised about the Pure North program.
"Patient safety is obviously the number one priority," Cooper said. "And health dollars should be spent based upon the best science available.
"So that is the responsibility of the health minister to ensure that that is happening," he said. "And if that isn't happening, we definitely need to be taking steps to correct that."
Hoffman's press secretary, Timothy Wilson, did not immediately respond to an interview request from CBC News on Thursday.
If you have any information about this story, or information for another story, please contact us in confidence at cbcinvestigates@cbc.ca
@charlesrusnell




http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/sarah-hoffman-pure-north-alberta-health-1.4116502



CBC INVESTIGATES

Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman's credibility questioned on Pure North issue

Internal briefing note raises doubts about Hoffman’s statements in legislature

By Jennie Russell, Charles Rusnell, CBC News Posted: May 16, 2017 5:00 AM MT Last Updated: May 16, 2017 5:00 AM MT
Health Minister Sarah Hoffman has said she knew nothing about health safety issues related to the private health foundation her ministry recently funded.
Health Minister Sarah Hoffman has said she knew nothing about health safety issues related to the private health foundation her ministry recently funded. (CBC News)
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Health Minister Sarah Hoffman either misled the legislature or her senior staff withheld critical information from her about health safety issues related to a program offered by a private alternative health foundation to which she approved millions of dollars in funding, an internal briefing note shows.
In a March interview with CBC News, Hoffman said she knew nothing about serious health safety issues identified in government documents related to the Calgary-based Pure North S'Energy Foundation before she  approved a $4.2-million grant to the foundation in October 2016 for a primary-care clinic.
On April 10, in response to questions from Wildrose MLA Tany Yao, Hoffman told the legislature she still had no specific knowledge of health risks associated with the foundation's alternative health program.
But an Alberta Health Services (AHS) briefing note shows that on Sept. 28, 2016 — a month before her ministry signed the $4.2-million grant agreement — Hoffman's office was told health officials had previously identified the "potential for negative health effects" resulting from the foundation's distribution of high-dose supplements to vulnerable populations.
"Either she has misrepresented the facts inside the house, or her staff haven't provided her with the appropriate information, both of which should be very concerning," Wildrose accountability critic Nathan Cooper said in an interview.
The Wildrose obtained the briefing note through a freedom of information request and provided it to CBC News.
Hoffman's press secretary Tim Wilson did not acknowledge an interview request from CBC News last week. Hoffman has also repeatedly refused to answer questions about lobbying and allegations of conflict of interest involving her deputy minister, Carl Amrhein, who was a participant in the Pure North program.
Pure North is a privately run, non-profit foundation that offers an unproven alternative health program involving high doses of supplements, including vitamin D. The foundation focuses its work on vulnerable populations and operates free programs at homeless shelters and drug recovery centres.

'Potential for negative health effects'

The September 2016 briefing note was prepared for Hoffman and AHS chief executive officer Dr. Verna Yiu. Called "Issues and Key Messages," it was intended to alert them to issues about Pure North contained in AHS records that were to be released to CBC News under freedom of information.
Dr. Verna Yiu
A briefing note prepared for AHS Dr. Verna Yiu outlined concerns with the Pure North alternative health program.
Pure North at that time was seeking a total of $50 million in funding to "improve depression and anxiety in the homeless and those suffering from addictions in Calgary and Edmonton" through high-dose vitamin supplements and the removal of mercury-based dental fillings. The briefing note states there is "insufficient evidence" that either treatment works.
CBC News reported in early April that Alberta Health gave Pure North $10 million in December 2013, against the advice of ministry officials, to expand its program ultimately to thousands of Alberta seniors.
The briefing note specifically warns Hoffman and Yiu about an incident, identified by CBC News as occurring at the Calgary Drop-In Centre in 2013, in which AHS dietitians raised concerns about Pure North's supplement program.
"The concerns were about the potential for negative health effects [from the] non-evidence-based practice of providing megadoses of vitamins and minerals exceeding recommended levels," the briefing note states, adding an additional concern was that "the individuals offered these megadoses may not have the ability to properly assess the safety of what is being offered."
A Pure North spokesperson has said the foundation was not told about the drop-in centre incident. Despite the concerns of public health officials, Pure North points to research studies it says show the program is safe and effective.

Minister should be aware of risks

Dr. Alun Edwards, a senior AHS medical director, is quoted in the briefing note as saying the Pure North program "hits the borderline for appropriateness."
Cooper said it is "concerning" that AHS has detailed safety concerns with the Pure North program, yet Hoffman does not appear to be investigating them.
Nathan Cooper
Wildrose accountability critic Nathan Cooper says Hoffman needs to explain a briefing note that appears to contradict her public statements. (Legislative Assembly of Alberta)
"The minister absolutely must be aware of any risks or concerns with the ongoings of the program," he said. "She is the one that needs to be responsible to ensure that those who are engaged in the program are safe and receiving appropriate care."
When Hoffman became health minister in 2015, she refused, based on advice from her officials, to give Pure North more funding for its seniors program. But in October 2016, her ministry signed a grant with the foundation for a nurse-practitioner-led primary care clinic in Calgary. The grant is worth up to $4.2 million over several years.
Hoffman has insisted Pure North will not be offering any of its alternative-health treatments at its primary care clinic and it will not refer patients to its other program.
Cooper said the Wildrose will continue to press for answers from Hoffman in the legislature.
"We are seeing a track record from this government of a lack of openness and transparency" Cooper said. "And now we see the health department ducking and weaving on a very, very important issue of transparency."  
Alberta Health Services briefing note - Sept. 28, 2016 by CBC Edmonton on Scribd




Why are we paying the richest industry in Alberta in the form of an interest free loan to do it's own work of clean up of orphan wells? What are we? The Bank of the Elite and the Emperor/Empress Industry in Alberta? It's time that all of these groups got off the taxpayer teats and did their own liability work with their own cash and not ours. It's shameful.


A $235-million loan from Alberta, financed with $30-million from the federal government, is expected to create 1,650 jobs to clean up some old oil and gas wells.
NATIONALOBSERVER.COM
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Don Bester A loan that will never be paid back, if the current levy can not support cleaning up orphan wells how do they expect to pay a $235 million loan plus interest. Notley's bandaid.

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Doug Simpson · Friends with Don Bester
Did you not mean Notley's brain dead?

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Julie Ali She is not brain dead in my opinion. She is like Ms. Redford in doing the politically expedient decision making. She is smarter than Ms. Redford in maintaining the fiction that she cares about citizens (see the job creation junk). Ms. Redford simply went on to build her Sky Palace, and have Mr. Horne approve $10 million upfront to a dubious foundation -Pure North. It's very interesting how politicians assist their own. http://www.cbc.ca/.../carl-amrhein-pure-north-unproven... Pure North is a privately run, non-profit foundation established by Markin that claims it can prevent chronic disease and improve health through its alternative treatments, which include high doses of vitamin D and other supplements and the removal of heavy metals from the body. 

The foundation focuses its work on vulnerable populations such as seniors, the homeless and drug users, and has for years sought a financial partnership with the provincial government. It also funds nutrition and health research at universities.

With donations of more than $20 million, Markin is one of the University of Alberta's biggest donors. Before Amrhein became deputy minister, he was provost at the University of Alberta and documents show he met personally with Markin several times dating back to 2011.

'The essence of a professional relationship with a client, or with an organization that is seeking money, is called arm's length ... this is not a professional relationship.'
- Jim Lightbody, political scientist, University of Alberta
In July 2014, as provost, Amrhein wrote a letter of support for Pure North and Markin that lauded the research data — and financial support — Pure North had given his university's academics.

"It has been a privilege to be able to work with Mr. Allan Markin and the Pure North S'Energy Foundation and we look forward to seeing all the program outcomes analyzed in a rigorous manner that meets the highest scientific standards," Amrhein wrote. "If I can supply any further information regarding this outstanding supporter of research, please do not hesitate to contact me directly."

Internal Alberta Health documents show Pure North used Amrhein's letter in September 2014, and again in December 2014, to bolster funding requests to the Progressive Conservative government.******************************************************To date $14.2 million dollars has been given to a pseudo science project that used human beings from vulnerable populations as experimental test animals. Its stunning that Alberta Health has functioned in a less than professional way disregarding ethical, human rights and public safety issues. All these failures require the removal of this health minister. If the GOA won't do it then the public needs to do it in the next election. There needs to be some accountability with reference to these expensive decisions. Right now Mr. Horne is off the hook for handing over $10 million against the advice of his advisors. Shameful.

Merna Anderberg-Jacklin A fund should have been set up for this as part of the royalty payments from the get go. Then this wouldn't be an issue. Now we are on the hook again. The companies made the profits, the shareholders got their dividends and we pay to clean up the mess. This has to stop

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Don Bester The Alberta Surface Rights Group made that exact recommendation Merna but it fell on deaf ears especially when the consultation process consisted of two landowner groups and 78 oil and gas companies.

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Julie Ali Don Bester Troubling that nothing changes in Alberta.

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Julie Ali I figure that the orphan well program is not the only legacy of the oil and gas industry. We will have a permanent moonscape in the tailings ponds. The scientists who were doing research on remediation of the tailings ponds are now retiring which indicates -at least to me--that the money wasted on research would have been better spent on the citizens of Alberta. Meanwhile the spin is super:http://www.edmontonjournal.com/.../Tai.../9252123/story.html The Pembina Institute warns: “If after decades this process is found not to work, then Alberta will be left with dozens of toxic lakes and a costly liability.”

A technical report on end-pit lakes done for the province also called for caution. “When scientific uncertainty is high and the potential for substantial negative and environmental impact exists — a likely scenario with end-pit lakes — decision-makers and designers should err on the side of caution,” writes the Cumulative Environmental Management Association.

Alberta Environment was expected to release its own management framework to deal with tailings ponds from old mines. Those older ponds, containing 40-year-old waste, were exempted from Directive 74.

The new Alberta Energy Regulator, which replaced the ERCB in June 2013, will issue its next report on tailings in 2015 — though industry is already warning that may be too soon.

Meanwhile, in March 2012, the seven companies in the tailings consortium morphed into Canadian Oilsands Innovation Alliance. They also set up a collaboration with a provincial government research agency, called Alberta Innovates — Energy and Environment Solutions, to track the best technology for cleaning up and reducing tailings ponds.

“We laud the commitment of industry who shared propriety data around their tailings technology development … for the advancement of science and the industry as a whole,” said Eddy Isaacs, CEO of Alberta Innovates.


Fort McMurray — On an early summer day, a…
EDMONTONJOURNAL.COM

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Julie Ali The NDPCs are smarter than the PCs. They don't give the money directly to the oil and gas industry as Stelmach did with the $30 million gift. Instead they tell us it is just a "loan" with interest charges covered with the $30 million from the feds.It's a shameful betrayal of the public interest by the party that supposedly is all for the little guy and gal in Alberta. I saw no targeting of the $30 million by the federal Liberals for the oil and gas industry but the Notley immediately pins the money as a gift for the industry: http://www.cbc.ca/.../30m-in-federal-budget-for-alberta... Premier Rachel Notley says the federal government's decision to give Alberta $30 million to remediate orphan wells is good news for the province.

The one-time funding was contained within the federal budget released Wednesday in Ottawa.

"This is money we have been strongly advocating for over the past few weeks and months," Notley said.

"We will leverage this money to aim more resources at putting Albertans back to work and reclaiming orphan wells." ************************************************************************The Liberals were too smart to directly stipulate this money for the industry and so it was Notley's decision to betray the public interest in this way. Way to go Ms. Notley!https://thetyee.ca/.../03/22/Budget-Cheque-Alberta-Resource/ The federal Liberals are handing Alberta a one-time cheque for $30 million — apparently with few strings attached.

Tucked away in sections with a focus on energy, the 2017-18 federal budget includes two brief paragraphs on the payment, which is apparently meant to help Edmonton “stimulate economic activity and employment in Alberta’s resource sector.”

Senior public servants weren’t able to provide any additional information on the payment or say whether it is being sent with any conditions during a media lock-up for the budget Wednesday.


Premier Rachel Notley says the federal government’s…
CBC.CA

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Marie-Bernard Young · Friends with Don Bester
I think the ones put it there should clean it up

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Julie Ali Unlikely to happen. As soon as the oil and gas industry gets unsubsidized and not as profitable they're out of here. The lack of interest by the politicians of all political parties represents a betrayal of the public interest that is now accepted by most citizens it seems. Only a few seem to yap and they're usually disregarded as being "unpatriotic" about the industry. What rot. They did the junk and they should clean up the junk.

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