Standing Committee On Public Accounts – Reports By Committees

October 30, 2014

Mr.Ernie Hardeman: I beg leave to present a report on Ornge Air Ambulance and Related Services: Summary Report from the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and move its adoption.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Mr. Hardeman presents the committee’s report and moves its adoption.

Does the member wish to make a brief statement?

Mr. Ernie Hardeman: Mr. Speaker, the interim report was tabled on June 4, 2013, and focused on the identification of issues and a statement of observations.

The summary report, which covers the 2013-14 hearings, focuses on the committee’s concerns which point to the deviation from the fundamental principles of public administration, namely accountability, transparency and value for money. Program delivery at Ornge was compromised and patients did not always receive the optimum services required.

The objectives of this report were to examine why corrective measures were not taken when red flag warnings occurred and how to avoid a recurrence of similar problems by identifying contributing factors.

The committee found the matters identified in the Auditor General’s report could be attributed primarily to:
—the absence of due diligence and oversight on the part of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in applying accountability;
—the lack of transparency and accountability on the part of Ornge’s management and board of directors, compounded by systemic operational issues; and
—shortcoming in Ornge’s first performance agreement.

There was an apparent inability or unwillingness by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to obtain the information needed to exercise proper oversight of Ornge. Where a government ministry is the primary funder of a crown agency or community service provider, reliable information is required on a timely basis to assess the service levels and cost-effectiveness of those services. The ministry was not diligent in pursuing red flags indicative of potential problems at Ornge.

As well, there are questions as to whether Ornge’s current business model provides better patient care than the previous model.

The committee is of the view that Ornge, under the direction of Dr. Mazza, drove the air ambulance program into the ground, leaving very little to rebuild on. As well, poor staff morale was a significant factor in overall operations.

The committee would like to acknowledge the commitment of Ornge personnel in providing ambulance services to Ontarians in a challenging environment.

The report requires the immediate attention of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and Ornge’s new management. Pursuant to standing order 32(d), the committee has requested a comprehensive response to this report from the auditees within 120 days.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts—Lisa MacLeod, Han Dong, John Fraser, Percy Hatfield, Harinder Malhi, Julia Munro, Arthur Potts and Lou Rinaldi—for dealing with this report.

I would also like to thank the previous committee, as everyone in this House will know this report was heard over a long period of time, and everybody put a lot of effort into it. In fact, the committee that is there today just did this as we started up the new committee under the new government. I just wanted to point out that the committee that did that was the public accounts committee. They held 40 days of public hearings to look at the Auditor General’s special report on Ornge. A total of 85 witnesses testified for 147 hours over a 26-month period. I want to thank the members who served on the committee during that time: Lorenzo Berardinetti, France Gélinas, Helena Jaczek, Phil McNeely, John O’Toole, Jagmeet Singh and Soo Wong. I also want to recognize Frank Klees, Jerry Ouellette and Bill Mauro, who participated in the committee, and most of those all the time during the committee; they just substituted in for the whole committee.

So I want to thank all those people for a job well done, and I also want to thank the Auditor General for all the work that she did, the assembly staff and all the people who appeared before the committee.
I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me a few minutes to highlight the report. I move adjournment of the debate.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Mr. Hardeman moves adjournment of the debate. Is it the pleasure of the House the motion carry?