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McGuinty under fire over Ornge mismanagement

April 25, 2012, Toronto - Premier Dalton McGuinty says he only had one encounter with Chris Mazza, the ousted CEO at Ontario's troubled air ambulance service.


April 25, 2012
By The Canadian Press

McGuinty says he only met Mazza once in 2005, when he visited people who were evacuated to Sudbury from the remote First Nations reserve of Kashechewan.

At the time, the province had declared a state of emergency in Kashechewan after E. coli bacteria was found in their water supply.

He says he may have also run into Mazza at a reception, but says he meets thousands of people each year at social events.

McGuinty made the comments in the legislature while under fire from the Opposition Conservatives.

Tory Frank Klees demanded that McGuinty explain a letter that advised Mazza not to mention that he met the premier at a reception.

The letter was drafted by Alfred Apps, the former president of the Liberal Party of Canada, who was working for Ornge.

Ornge is currently under a criminal probe for "financial irregularities'' and came under fire by Ontario's auditor general, who found there was vitually no oversight of the publicly funded organization.

Earlier in the day, a legislative committee investigating Ornge heard that the organization is still plagued by a lack of qualified pilots and acute care paramedics.

Barry McLellan, one of Ornge's new board members, told the committee that the board is also still looking for a permanent fix for the interiors of its new helicopters, which couldn't accommodate paramedics performing CPR or other life-saving procedures.

McLellan said Ornge found a temporary fix for the problem, but it will be "many months'' before a permanent solution is found.

He said he's also heard anecdotally that some northern hospitals are reluctant to call Ornge because it didn't respond to their calls in the past.

The committee is expected to hear from former chairman Rainer Beltzner later in the day and the law firm that reportedly received millions of dollars from Ornge.