Eerie similarities between Eastern Bloc and Alberta Health Services, writes contributor

To the Editor,

I have heard for years how the Eastern Bloc countries used citizens to inform on one another thereby maintaining mass compliance by creating fear that their thoughts and sympathies would be exposed by a careless word or action. The government tolerated no criticism and rewarded those who exposed the critics. The accused never had a chance to face their accusers, and in many cases they did not even know they had been accused of anything and they would simply lose their job or be denied a promotion.

I had an opportunity to experience the result of these feelings of fear and insecurity when I visited my son’s wife’s family in Poland just after the fall of the Berlin Wall. They were teachers at a rural school, very poorly paid but they were supplied with living accommodations in the school complex. During my visit I noticed that all of the teachers and their families treated each other as if they were invisible. I asked my son’s father-in-law why there was no social interaction with his neighbours. He told me that in Poland about one person in seven were informers and no one knew who they were so it was better if they did not associate with people they worked with. He said that although the government had changed and there was now a kind of democracy, they still felt that they could not quite trust each other.

My reason in relating this story is to point out that the Alberta Health Services Code of Conduct provides all of the possibilities for the terrible abuse of authority that was practiced in the Eastern Bloc countries. The code warns people employed by AHS that they must be very careful of what they say about AHS and “it is important to exercise caution at all times and choose your words carefully when engaged in any form of public speaking”. Another area of the code states, “If you are unwilling to report any unreasonable suspicions that a fellow employee’s conduct violates the code of conduct to your supervisor or the ethics and compliance officer, you may report your suspicions to the external confidential reporting and disclosure service.”

We must not let this happen in Canada. Please write the premier, the MLA’ s and anyone else you can think of. We must stop this now.

Viggo Nielsen

Red Deer, Alta.