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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mismanagement: hallmark of the McGuinty government

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Auditor General Jim McCarter releases his report on the ORNGE air ambulance agency
| picture credit: Toronto.ctv.ca

The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario is calling for the resignation of Health Minister Deb Matthews following revelations of lack of oversight, excessive waste and mismanagement at ORNGE, Ontario’s air ambulance service.

Back in Oct. 2009, I wrote, “Think of the billion-dollar mess that is eHealth. Think of the mess that must also be in other government agencies—surely eHealth is not unique.” Well, as it turns out, I was right. We now have another full-blown financial scandal involving hundreds of millions of tax dollars.

eHealth Ontario is the provincial agency, which is tasked with creating an electronic health record system. The agency came under fire in 2009 over nearly $5 million doled out in untendered contracts during the first months after its creation in 2008. Other scandalous revelations of mismanagement at the provincial agency soon followed and were confirmed by a report from Auditor General Jim McCarter.

As with the eHealth fiasco, we now have another report of mismanagement from Auditor General Jim McCarter, and, as they did in 2009, Premier Dalton McGuinty and his health minister are acting all surprised and outraged that such a thing could happen under their watch.

This is another episode in what I have described as Ontario’s long rudderless slide to nowhere. Ontario keeps piling on new spending initiatives like all-day kindergarten and the Ontario Tuition Rebate program, while it wallows in debt and annual budget deficits and has to accept federal handouts as a “have-not” province.

Add to this the Ontario Liberal government’s inability to provide effective oversight of the many billions of tax dollars it spends every year, and you have a recipe for fiscal disaster of the magnitude of the situation in Greece.

Ontario taxpayers have good reason to believe that mismanagement and lack of financial oversight is endemic throughout the province’s departments and agencies, and we stand powerless to remedy the situation.

[Sources: summary of the gory details here, and the audit report itself here].

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

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