The Health Services Preferential Access Inquiry

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Allegations have been made that some Albertans can obtain or have obtained improper preferential access to publicly funded health services. In response to these allegations, the Government of Alberta has announced a Public Inquiry to investigate such a possibility. An Order in Council establishing the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry has been issued by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council to that effect.

The Honourable John Z. Vertes has been named Commissioner and has the powers, privileges and immunities of a Commissioner under the Public Inquiries Act. These include the power to summon witnesses and documents. The Inquiry is not subject to government influence or interference in its proceedings however it must exemplify appropriate management practices.

The Terms of Reference for the Inquiry are to consider:

  1. Whether improper preferential access to publicly funded health services is occurring; and
  2. If there is evidence of improper preferential access to publicly funded health services occurring, to then make recommendations to prevent improper access in the future.



Legal & Research Department

Michelle H. Hollins, Q.C.

Ms. Hollins practices in civil litigation, with particular expertise in employment law, shareholder and contract disputes, restrictive covenants, product liability, debtor-creditor issues and other civil litigation matters. Michele has appeared at all levels of court in Alberta, is a past President of the Canadian Bar Association, Alberta Branch, and is currently the CBA National Second Vice-President, scheduled to assume the role of President in 2014-15. Ms. Hollins received her Queen’s Counsel designation in 2008, as well as the National Canadian Bar Association’s Louis St. Laurent Award in 2010, and is a regular speaker and respected writer on a variety of litigation and advocacy related topics.

Jason L. Wilkins

Mr. Wilkins’ practice includes family law, with expertise in all facets of property disputes, spousal support and child custody related issues, as well as a civil litigation practice. He has experience in mediations, both judicial and private, and advocacy experience at all levels of Court in Alberta, including significant trial and appellate work. Mr. Wilkins is a long-serving volunteer with Calgary Legal Guidance, receiving the Allan D. Hunter Volunteer of the Year Award in 2008.

John McGurran

Director of Research

John McGurran has thirty years of experience in applied research and project management, typically in health care settings. He is acknowledged as an authority on access to effective health care and as such has consulted for governments and nongovernmental agencies within Canada and abroad.

John received his academic training at McMaster University: 1976 BA (summa cum laude) in Political Science (Social & Political Ideas); 1980 MSc in Medical Sciences (Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics). While at McMaster he served as a member of the University’s Senate and Board of Governors.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Q: What is the Health Services Preferential Access Inquiry?

A: Allegations have been made that some individuals are, or have been, given improper preferential access to publicly funded health services. The Lieutenant Governor in Council considers it to be in the public interest that a public inquiry be held to make recommendations to prevent the possibility of any person being given improper preferred access to publicly funded services as per the Health Services Preferential Access Inquiry Terms of Reference

Q: Is this an independent Inquiry?

A: In accordance with section 17 of the Health Quality Council of Alberta Act the Commission is completely independent, and has all the powers, privileges, and immunities of a commissioner under the Public Inquiries Act.

Q: Who is conducting the Health Services Preferential Access Inquiry?

A: Mr. Justice John Z. Vertes has been appointed by the Board of the Health Quality Council of Alberta as Commissioner of this public inquiry. Mr. Justice John Z. Vertes appointed Sheila-Marie Cook, CVO as Executive Director of the Health Services Preferential Access Inquiry.

Q: How do I contact the Health Services Preferential Access Inquiry?

A: The best way to contact the Health Services Preferential Access Inquiry is electronically through our Contact Form or by email, at info@healthaccessinquiry.com. Please also see General Contact Information for additional contact options.

Q: When will the Health Services Preferential Access Inquiry begin?

A: The Health Services Preferential Access Inquiry is already underway. For the latest news on the Inquiry please click here. Some key dates include:

  • Public Hearings on Standing and Funding applications:
    • In Edmonton: October 15 and 16, 2012;
  • Delivery of Inquiry Findings and Recommendations: August 31, 2013