In November 2022, Dr. Cowell was appointed to play a key role in establishing a Health Care Action Plan in Alberta. Since that time, there have been meaningful improvements in Alberta’s health care system and Dr. Cowell’s appointment has now been extended to the end of the year to continue the work to further improve health care so Albertans can access it when and where they need it.

“I am pleased by the progress made under Dr. Cowell’s leadership in the immediate areas of action he was tasked with. We already have tangible results Albertans can see. I look forward to working with him over the next six months to continue improvements in health care delivery until a permanent governance structure for AHS is developed.”

Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Health

The Health Care Action Plan focuses on improving EMS response times, decreasing emergency room wait times, reducing surgical wait times and empowering health care workers to deliver health care.

Improvements since November in priority areas include:

  • A 17 per cent decrease in wait times at emergency departments.
  • A drop by almost half in EMS response times for the most urgent calls in metro and urban areas (to 12 minutes).
  • Fewer patients waiting longer than clinically recommended for surgeries.
  • The addition of more nurses, paramedics and other front-line staff.

The official administrator will also support ongoing work with Alberta Mental Health and Addiction to implement a recovery-oriented system of care within AHS. As part of this work, AHS will work with Alberta’s government to ensure consistent oversight and governance of service delivery while also reviewing mental health and addiction-related expenditures within AHS to provide ministry oversight.

“Alberta is becoming a leader in helping people get their lives back through recovery and mental wellness thanks to our government’s work. I look forward to working with Dr. John Cowell and Alberta Health Services to build a world-class system that supports every Albertan’s pursuit of recovery and wellness from the challenges they face.”

Dan Williams, Minister of Mental Health and Addiction

“I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to lead AHS and improve health care services for all Albertans. AHS continues to address priority areas and drive measurable, meaningful improvement. We are fortunate to have the best health care workers in the world, and as an organization, we are focused on step-by-step improvement that is already leading to better access to care. I’m also looking forward to working with the Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction and improving clinical services, resources and outcomes for Albertans needing support.”

Dr. John Cowell, official administrator, Alberta Health Services