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Ousted Ornge chief listed as creditor in bankruptcy

Feb. 24, 2012, Toronto - The ousted CEO of Ontario's troubled air ambulance service is listed as a creditor in the bankruptcy of one of Ornge's for-profit ventures, legal documents show.


February 24, 2012
By The Canadian Press

They list Chris Mazza, who was paid $1.4 million a year as CEO, as being owed $1. That means that the balance due, if any, is undetermined or unknown.

An unnamed group of "former directors'' is also listed as being owed $73,900.

The lawyer listed as representing Mazza in the bankruptcy case was not immediately available for comment.

Mazza received $700,000 in loans from Ornge Global GP Inc., which have yet to be repaid, the documents showed.

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The company's debts are listed at $6.5 million and its assets at $782,000.

The documents were filed by bankruptcy trustees Duff and Phelps, who are overseeing the bankruptcy of Ornge Global GP and Ornge Global Holdings LP.

Ornge Global Holdings's debts is listed at $6.4 million and its assets at $345,000.

Ornge receives about $150 million a year from the province to run a non-profit air medical rescue and transport service. The two companies formed part of a maze of for-profit subsidiaries set up by the publicly-funded Ornge under Mazza's tenure.

Both Mazza and Ornge's board of directors were replaced by the government last month amid controversy over high executive salaries and questionable business practices.

Ornge is currently under a criminal probe for "financial irregularities.''

Health Minister Deb Matthews said she wasn't sure why Mazza was listed as a creditor or how much he may be seeking.

"What I know is that he was terminated without severance,'' she said Thursday.

"We do have a lien on his house, so I'm not sure what that particular dollar is about but his time at Ornge (is) finished.''

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she's not surprised that Mazza appears to be seeking money from the bankruptcy of Ornge companies.

"Who's on the hook?'' she said. "Is it going to be public money that's got to be coughed up to pay off these executives that are claiming against the bankrupt companies?''

The New Democrats also questioned Matthews about why Ornge Global Holdings owes nearly $14,000 to a Brazilian law firm.

"I want to know if the minister is aware of the Brazilian businesses going on, and does she think that throwing taxpayers' money around Brazil is a good use of public health care dollars?'' France Gelinas, the party's health critic, asked in the legislature.

Matthews said she didn't know what Ornge was doing in Brazil, but all the information her ministry has gathered has been turned over to the Ontario Provincial Police.

"We must all do what we have to do to see that justice is done, and that means letting the OPP do their job,'' she told the legislature.

Both opposition parties are demanding that Matthews resign in the wake of the Ornge scandal, saying she did little to investigate the agency even though complaints have been circulating for more than a year. But Matthews insists she's not going anywhere.

Progressive Conservative Frank Klees said it's taxpayers who will be on the hook for the cleanup at Ornge, including paying off its debts.

"There is no question that taxpayers will be left holding the bag,'' he said.

Apart from the police probe, two other investigations related to Ornge are still ongoing. The Ministry of Health's emergency health services branch is investigating 13 incidents related to air ambulance transports, three of which involved deaths of patients.

Matthews confirmed Thursday that Ornge is aware of 13 service disruptions to its air ambulance service over the past three weeks, which were raised by the Tories in the legislature.

The list included an incident in Windsor, where a critically ill newborn waited more than four hours for an air ambulance to take him to London. The Tories said doctors were so worried about the delay that they sent the baby to Detroit instead for fear that he'd die.

Matthews said she was familiar with the case. Ornge does investigate such complaints and takes action to ensure patient safety, she added.

"What is important is that the child got the care that the child needed,'' she told the legislature.

Auditor general Jim McCarter is also finishing his report on Ornge, which is expected to be tabled in March.


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