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More trouble ahead for Ornge

Feb. 26, 2013, Toronto - The province's troubled Ornge air ambulance system will be subject to Ontario's freedom of information law by the fall.


February 26, 2013
By The Canadian Press

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.

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She 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.

His 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.