More trouble ahead for Ornge
February 26, 2013 By The Canadian Press
Feb. 26, 2013, Toronto - The province's troubled Ornge air ambulance
system will be subject to Ontario's freedom of information law by the
Health Minister Deb Matthews has re-introduced legislation that the
government says will boost oversight of the scandal-plagued air
ambulance service and limit what it can do without government approval,
such as selling assets.
The original bill was introduced a year
ago – one day after it was announced police were investigating financial
irregularities at Ornge – but it died when Dalton McGuinty prorogued
the legislature last October.
The only change in the new bill is
the inclusion of provisions to put Ornge under the auspices of freedom
of information legislation, which the opposition parties had demanded.
Matthews says the performance agreement signed in 2005 that led to Ornge's ill-fated foray into the for-profit sector wasn't adequate to prevent the abuse of taxpayer dollars.
says the bill will protect whistleblowers who disclose information on
Ornge and allow the government to take control of the agency in extraordinary circumstances through the appointment of a supervisor.
"My goal is to ensure that Ornge focuses on providing the highest quality air ambulance service possible and gets the best value for our precious health care dollars,'' said Matthews.
Ornge's former CEO, Chris Mazza, set up a series of private for-profit entities under the Ornge banner, and hid his $1.4 million salary from the public.
sky-high salary didn't stop Mazza from billing taxpayers thousands of
dollars in expenses for luxurious trips to 75 cents for parking, or from taking $1.2 million in loans in a single year from Ornge and its different subsidiaries.