June 22nd, 2024

Accountability needed for Covenant Health

By Letter to the Editor on July 9, 2021.

Should somebody else’s religion be the final determinant of the nature and quality of services you can receive from your publicly funded health care system in Alberta? Does your answer change if it was the Premier’s religious beliefs that limited your choice?
Does any elected politician in Canada have the right to impose their religious beliefs on the electorate or do they have an obligation to allow each of us to practice our own chosen faith as we see fit?
Covenant Health operates with public funding several acute care facilities in Alberta under the direction of a Board of Directors who are appointed by and accountable to the Catholic Bishops of Alberta.
They also profess an accountability to the people of Alberta through contract, although nobody has bothered to explain the impact of Matthew 6:24 when those accountabilities clash as they have in the areas of pregnancy termination and medical assistance in dying.
Covenant’s position is that it is not permissible for Catholic healthcare providers to terminate an established pregnancy or to administer medications that have termination as their purpose.
Further, Covenant has indicated that, regardless of the law in Canada, Covenant Health will not permit physician-assisted dying in any of the facilities which it operates with public funding.
One might say that Albertans in need should just choose another health care facility but in many cases this is not possible and, quite frankly, it is just plain wrong that the edicts of organized religion should supercede the legal rights of an individual Albertan.
When an individual and their own trusted family members or carefully chosen advisors confront life’s toughest decisions, neither the Roman Catholic Church, nor the Bishop of Rome, nor the Archbishop of Edmonton, nor the six Catholic bishops of Alberta, nor the Premier of Alberta has an ex-officio seat in the room, never mind the deciding vote.
The fact that Covenant Health has accepted billions of dollars of public money to be the moral guardians in healthcare for some of our publically funded health care facilities is an abomination.
The people of Alberta are footing the bill for a completely unnecessary shadow administration including a separate chair, a group of board members, a CEO, a gaggle of Vice-presidents and all of the accoutrements associated therewith.
As a private organization operating under contract, even though it is funded by billions of dollars of public money, Covenant Health is exempt from scrutiny by the Auditor General of Alberta, who has never been allowed to darken their doorway. Covenant Health does hire a private auditing firm which, I am sure, does an admirable job, but the terms of whose examination must be agreed to by Covenant Health.
It is time for Alberta to follow the lead of Quebec, a province with the largest Catholic population in Canada, and remove clerical meddling from healthcare.
David B. Carpenter

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Southern Albertan

Agreed. It’s not surprising that many have become leery of organized religion, overall.

John Warren

i absolutely agree with Mr. Carpenter’s summary of the situation that exists with Covenant Health.
A friend of mine, who was receiving palliative care and was in the process of dying in St. Mike’s, elected to receive medical aid in dying from a physician. When the day for his arranged death arrived, this dying man was shipped out of St. Mikes to the health facility in Coaldale, so that the procedure to end his suffering could be done outside the walls of the Covenant-run St. Mikes. Imagine how you would feel if this happened to one of your family members.
The Catholic Church was responsible for the administration of more than half of the residential schools in Canada. Hundreds of unmarked graves of children have been found at sites close to these schools.
Allowing the Catholic Church to meddle in the health and welfare of Canadians, whether they are indigenous or settler, has been disastrous since confederation. It’s time for Covenant Health to go.

Seth Anthony

Just as big of a concern, is the backwards and archaic notion that the public should be funding religious based institutions.


Spot on, David. Covenant health is costing the Alberta taxpayers millions of dollars each year in mismanagement of their facilities and total duplicity in managerial overhead. You have just barely scratched the surface of the problems fiscally. In my opinion, if they want to make the rules, it should be with private funding.


The comments are succinct and accurate.
Religion has repeatedly proved itself uncaring, intolerant, irresponsible, immoral, evil, criminal, and dangerous. Has absolutely misused public trust and has no right to be involved in any publicly funded education or health care. Should not receive tax breaks, should be completely defunded