Alberta sunshine list outs millions paid in severance to government staff

The Alberta government paid nearly $3.6-million in severance to senior officials during a year of political turmoil, according to documents recently added to the province’s sunshine list.

Hours after premier Alison Redford announced she was stepping down on March 19, six members of her staff resigned, collecting more than $1-million. The biggest single cheque went to Ms. Redford’s outgoing chief of staff, Farouk Adatia. After less than two years in his post, he collected $366,878.61.

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The former premier’s principal secretary, director of operations, director of communications and the executive director of her Calgary office also collected six-figure severances.

Details of the payments were initially released when Dave Hancock was interim premier. At the time, Mr. Hancock’s office explained that the large compensation was written into contracts due to “low job security.”

Unlike in Ontario, where the annual release of the sunshine list has been an eagerly awaited event since 1996, Alberta’s system was introduced only in January, 2014, after Ms. Redford’s office was criticized for the number of lucrative contracts given to political staffers.

Ms. Redford resigned amid controversy over her improper use of government resources.

In Premier Jim Prentice’s first 100 days in office, $701,586.60 was handed out in severance. Topping the list of the five pay-outs were the deputy ministers of Alberta’s culture and transportation departments: both collected $162,160.37 in October.

Not counting the severance payments to Ms. Redford’s staff, a total of $1,822,986.93 was paid to departing government officials in 2014 before Mr. Prentice took office. The largest payment went to Lorraine McKay, who took home $208,391.03 when she resigned in April as an executive manager at Alberta Health.

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