Fast Eddie 's nightmares mount.
First, there was the Calgary Holy Cross Health Centre. The Centre was formerly the Holy Cross Hospital. Founded in 1891 by the Order of the Sisters of Charity known as the Grey Nuns, the Holy Cross Hospital successfully attended to the health needs of the people of the City of Calgary and Southern Alberta for over 100 years. In its hey-day it was a major active treatment hospital, known for excellent care, outstanding surgical facilities, a highly rated School of Nursing, and a staff that took pride in their work. It delivered a very high standard of health care until it closed in 1996 when it fell victim to the Klein Government's misguided reorganization of health care services. Since then its been down hill all the way for the Holy Cross.
In 1997 the building was sold for a song to the Huang family, some of which members were close friends of the Premier's. The purchase price for the buildings and the 9 acres of prime inner city land it sat on was 4.5 million dollars. The hospital had just had a 20 million dollar renovation before its closure.
Since the sale, the buildings have housed medical offices, some out-patient treatment facilities, and an assisted living housing facility. In addition, the owners entered into a contract with the Calgary Health Region to operate a private nursing home or long-term care facility on the property.
The assisted living residents were recently greeted with rent increases as high as 42% - at a time when Calgary faces a critical lack of affordable housing together with wide-scale chronic homelessness.
Yesterday the Calgary Health Region announced that due to allegations of fire code violations, and inadequate wound care in the nursing home, as well as the failure of the owners to address those concerns, it was terminating its contract with the owners. The result: 42 chronically ailing and disabled Albertans have to move and 30 staff are without jobs.
That has been the fate of the venerable Holy Cross Hospital which until the Klein years, provided quality health care for 106 years. Operated privately by the friends of Ralph, its management turfs poor people who can't pay the rent increases out onto the street. Worse, because of managment bungling, the chronically ill in the nursing home are forced to move elsewhere because of a lack of adequate care.
The days of the Teflon Tories are over. Fast Eddie was a Big Stick in the Klein Government and he is the one who is now called upon to pay the political price for this catastrophe by the inspired Taft Grits in the current session of the Legislature.
And if that nightmare isn't enough for the Premier, what about the strange case of Bob Maskell?
Maskell was an Edmonton Tory MLA who was defeated by a Grit in the election of 2004. A couple of months later the Government's Aboriginal Affairs Department signed Maskell to a contract which was to be effective from two days after the election. The contract provided that the Department would pay Maskell 38 grand a year to chair a committee to approve aboriginal projects for the province's 2005 centennial celebrations. Maskell also picked up an extra 80 big ones as a transitional allowance to which he was entitled to ease himself back into private life.
Maskell's actions were similar to the unseemly actions of his former boss Premier Klein, who days after he was eligible to pocket the $600,000 or so severance from the Province, took a cushy job as a lobbyist with the esteemed law firm of Borden Ladner.
But there's more on the Maskell file. A perusal of his bills for services that he submitted to the government and which were paid, show that he once worked and billed for 50 hours in one day. Another had him working and being paid for 30 hours for one day. And another for 28 hours in one day. Some of the itemized services rendered were cutting ribbons, raising flags, and presenting blankets to elders. I kid you not.
And the Premier is defending Maskell.
Taft and his gang are screaming blue murder in the Legislature about this nightmare too. And the papers are screaming headlines. They aren't swallowing the swill that Fast Eddie and his hayseeds are something new and the 'that was then and this is now' routine the Tories are famous for.
'Nope,' as Eddie might say. This time the buck ends with Eddie.