Wings Magazine

Ex Ornge exec calls out former McGuinty chief of staff

May 16, 2012, Toronto - A former executive at Ontario's troubled air ambulance service says Premier Dalton McGuinty's ex-chief of staff contacted the government on behalf of Ornge.

May 16, 2012  By The Canadian Press

Jacob Blum testified before a legislative committee that Don Guy was asked by Alfred Apps, a lawyer who worked for Ornge, to arrange the meeting with government officials about Ornge's consolidation on the provincial books.

Blum, who kept a journal of his work at Ornge, submitted notes that referred to a discussion in 2007 with Guy and Apps about setting up a meeting between Ornge and the health and finance ministries.

According to his notes, Guy contacted the Ministry of Finance and told Ornge that he was confident that they would swayed not to consolidate Ornge and that they'd get a proper hearing.

Both Guy and Apps, who later became president of the Liberal Party of Canada, have denied that they lobbied the provincial government on Ornge's behalf.


The committee also heard from a former Ornge director Luis Navas, in charge of compensation, who defended the pay package of ousted CEO Chris Mazza.

The six-figure compensation paid to Mazza wasn't unusually high for someone working in the health transportation sector, he said.

Mazza's compensation eventually reached $1.4 million, but Navas said he left the board before that.

Navas was also grilled on his employment history at Ornge, which is currently under a criminal investigation, and his work on a $2-million contract with Italian helicopter firm AgustaWestland.

Navas says he was never chief operating officer of Ornge Global, one of the for-profit spinoff companies that's currently in bankruptcy proceedings.

He insisted that he was just an adviser to Ornge Global, even when Conservative Frank Klees produced a business letter that Navas signed as COO.

Navas says he never had an employment agreement with Ornge Global and signed the letter as COO because it wouldn't have been "productive'' to sign it as an adviser.

Kelly Long, a former junior executive at Ornge and Mazza's girlfriend, testified that Navas was COO of Ornge Global and that she reported to him.

A spokesman for Ornge also said Navas became chief operating officer of Ornge Global Solutions in January 2011, but no payment has been made on that contract since last August.

But Navas says that's not the case and he only worked as an adviser to Ornge Global.

Navas also told the committee that he sat on Ornge's board of directors from 2006 until 2009 and he served as chairman of the compensation committee.

Ornge spokesman James MacDonald said Navas served on the board from 2005 until 2010. Navas said there's a discrepancy because he resigned in the 2010 fiscal year.


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