Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Last week it was revealed the Alberta Health Services CEO and President Stephen Duckett was awarded performance bonuses of nearly $150,000 above his base salary of $595,000 for improvements seen under his tenure.
Huh? Excuse one of the plebes for wondering WTF. I can't say from anything other than simple perception, but since Steve came to town, I haven't noticed any improvements to the system. Quite to the contrary, I have seen chaos and obfuscation to a greater extent than I saw before our Australian super-hero came to the Great White North. So forgive me for wondering why it is he is being so richly rewarded... especially when most of the "street-level" improvements within the system seem to have come from the recommendations of the people working the front lines of the health care system: doctors, nurses and techs.
Am I the only one that senses a disconnect between provincial politicians who seem to think there's nothing odd about giving a fellow $595,000 a year to do a job and then when he does it, he gets a reward for doing the job he was paid to do in the first place.
A friend of mine (in the business sector--oddly enough) tried to explain to me that this sort of incentive bonus scheme is common in top executive packages... as if that would explain it. Well, it did throw me off the trail for a few hours. After all, who am I to question the machinations of big business? I'm just a berry farmer, and that sort of high-finance isn't really within my grasp.
Then I slept on it... and it occurred to me that maybe just because this sort of practice is common practice in big business, it isn't actually right, especially since Alberta Health is not big business, but rather a wing of government... and government is (or ought to be) acting in the public interest and not the interest of share-holders. Really, in this case, the share-holders are plebes like me anyway, eking out lives on far less than $595,000 a year... without incentive bonuses.
Well, that's not exactly true. My company does offer me a pretty-hard-to-ignore incentive bonus... of sorts; it's generally put in these terms: "do what we pay you for or get fired."
Works for me... and tens of thousands of others. That's why it's so tough to understand that performance incentives ought to be given out almost as a matter of course to executives... even when the proof of their performance is not always tangible (and I don't believe it is in this case).
Common place or not... I wonder what Stephen Duckett did to earn his huge bonus? Aside from listening to the suggestions of a few health care professionals at the pointy edge of the whole operation, I can't see that he did very much.