Ontario's $1-billion eHealth consulting scandal

The private consultants behind the eHealth spending scandal weren’t able to contain themselves from pinching the public purse for every last dime." - Warren (Smokey) Thomas.

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE)Toronto (9 Oct. 2009) - The finding by Ontario's auditor general that greater public oversight would have prevented the billion-dollar spending scandal at eHealth has been strongly embraced by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE).

“Let’s hope the premier and his government learned a valuable lesson today – the more you hand over control of a vital public service like health care to the private sector, the more costs are going to skyrocket at the expense of the tax-paying public,” says OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas.

“We couldn’t agree more with Auditor General Jim McCarter. The private consultants behind the eHealth spending scandal weren’t able to contain themselves from pinching the public purse for every last dime. That simply wouldn’t happen under a genuine public system with built-in checks, oversight and accountability.”

In his report, the auditor general specifically pointed to the fact that “there was a heavy, and in some cases almost total, reliance on (private) consultants. By 2008, the ministry’s eHealth program branch had fewer than 30 full-time employees, but was engaging more than 300 consultants …”

Follows scandal in Brampton

Thomas said watching the eHealth scandal unfold was like reading an all-too-familiar story.

He cited the auditor’s report from 2008 which revealed the privatization of the William Osler Health Centre in Brampton cost almost $500 million more than had Ontario used traditional public procurement and financing.

“What nobody in government seems to understand is that squandering this sort of money means that vital revenue is not available to keep hospitals open and to hire the professional health care workers we desperately need.”

Last month a London, Ontario hospital vice-president resigned over a similar scandal as more than $3 million in untendered contracts went to a former associate.

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

Issues and Campaigns
Occupational Groups