Wings Magazine

Ex-Ornge CEO Mazza’s defence nonsense: Matthews

July 31, 2012, Toronto - Ontario's health minister says ex-Ornge CEO Chris Mazza's claim that he would have changed course at Ontario's air ambulance service if she'd asked is "pure nonsense.''

July 31, 2012  By The Canadian Press

Deb Matthews insists Ontario's troubled air ambulance service went rogue and Mazza wouldn't meet with her to talk about his
undisclosed $1.4-million compensation.

The minister had testified in March, but her version of events was challenged by Mazza during an emotional appearance nearly two weeks ago.

She said Ornge stonewalled government officials about salaries and a complex web of for-profit companies that were supposed to generate revenue for the publicly funded service.

But Mazza maintains the health ministry always knew about changes he was making and never told him he had veered off course.


The New Democrats recalled the minister to help clear up some of the contradictory testimony.

Ornge, which receives about $150 million a year from the province, is currently under a criminal probe for financial irregularities.

It's been mired in controversy over sky-high executive compensation, questionable business deals and poorly designed
medical interiors in its brand-new helicopters.

Auditor general Jim McCarter has criticized the governing Liberals for failing to oversee Ornge, despite giving it $730 million over five years and allowing it to borrow another $300 million.

Critical care flight paramedic Brandon Doneff told the committee that paramedics and pilots voiced their concerns about the reduced staff and delayed responses to emergency calls, but it was like hitting "a brick wall.''

He was told that the so-called "downstaffing'' and delays were meant to help Ornge save money, he said. But it also

Ornge executives told front-line staff a year ago that they were running out of money and would have to close bases in Ontario, he said. Even though they weren't providing adequate services in Ontario, they said they had a plan to expand the organization's reach internationally, he added.

He said he still went out on calls when he was the only paramedic available because he wanted to help patients. Management told him to respond, even though it technically broke Ontario law, which requires two paramedics in an air ambulance.

The staffing issues changed after Mazza left, said Doneff, who worked from Ornge's London base. More paramedics were hired and one would be transported from another city if a second medic wasn't available.

A legislative committee looking into Ornge will hear from a number of other witnesses over the next two days. The committee will then break for the summer.

The opposition parties said they wanted to recall Mazza too, but his doctors have sent a letter saying he is medically unfit to


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