The EHealth Scandal – A Reminder


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Scandals and the Liberal Party have been long time friends in Ontario.  It’s almost comical to watch various past and present Liberal Party of Ontario caucus members in action as they again ask voters for a vote of confidence in the upcoming June 12, 2014 Ontario election.

The words complicity and duplicity seem to have become part of the Liberal DNA in Ontario.   It seems almost strategic that the entire party and its legislative caucus appear to have the taxpaying public mesmerized by way of a new version of what magicians have known for years: the eye can deceive the brain.  Alas, objects in the rear view mirror are “closer than they appear”. 

It does seem confusing to keep track of scandal after scandal but, some of us to remember and do keep score.  Sadly, it appears that the memory each separate scandal gets blurred in the public mind as yet another (and more outrageous scandal) flashes briefly into the media and is quickly obscured by yet another (more costly and more outrageous) scandal briefly catches the eye.  It is much like trying to count the waves along a water front.  Each separate wave becomes insignificant and the task of keeping score becomes too tedious for the mind to comprehend.

I cannot (and will not) suggest that the FIRST Liberal scandal was EHealth.  After all, as I said, we are talking about DNA.   But assuredly, the strategy being employed does seem to include more than a bit of sleight of hand.  Intentional? Perhaps. Inadvertent? I suggest that there is a definite pattern to it.

The birth of the EHealth scandal took place in the Liberal Caucus Room in late 2007 and early 2008. The Liberal government in Ontario was fitted with a sizeable majority and was in the mood to help “a few friends”.  The concept would be to put a focus onto health care. What better way to improve health care could there be than computerize something that was problematic.  Wait times in emergency rooms, wait times for essential treatments and shortages of hospital beds be damned, the tax payers would have a state-of-the –art computer system humming along in the background and the Liberal Health Minister(s) would have something to boast about. They would be able to brag that changes were taking place and that progress was happening.

Presto: an untendered contract was created and an EHealth chairperson was appointed. Fast forward one year after the announcement was made and the several millions that had been poured into first computer system along with the first EHealth chair were jettisoned along with the Health Minister of the day.  But, in the world of political spin, all the parts are truly interchangeable. A new scheme was quickly hatched around the caucus table, another Health Minister was announced and a fresh batch of untendered contracts was inked.  I dare not name the consulting firms for fear of civil action but I am sure that IF I mentioned $3,000 a day consulting contracts you may recall. The little EHealth project had grown to a super team of over 300 consultants and 30 handpicked employees who produced (???) nadda, nothing, zilch.

Finally, by late 2009, provincial auditor James McCarter was blowing the whistle on the entire fiasco.   By the time that the Auditor General’s report was made public, another $650,000,000 of taxpayers’ money had been flushed down the drain.  When a Liberal candidate asks for your vote and attempts to say that they increased spending on health care during the last terrible eleven years, please NEVER forget the wastage. Do not forget annual salaries paid to various and several successive EHealth Chair Persons each paid between $300,000 and $350,000 per year and permitted to wallow away their days munching on $3.60 muffins (yes, these folks did keep records and were meticulous in their insistence on detail – only as far as their expense reports were concerned).

Following the Auditor General‘s intervention, the then Premier (McGuinty) did the predictable.  He simply rearranged the deck chairs and shuffled another Cabinet Minster into the (now) hot seat. At the same time, the third EHealth Chair was terminated and sent on her way with a $500,000 severance package. 

But all of those dicey deals became blurred by the infamous “gas plant scandal” that was looming on the horizon.  When all was said and done, the EHealth scandal tallied over $2 BILLION in wasted public money.  It did not improve life for any one in Ontario with the exception of the Party insiders who obtained lucrative consulting contracts and cushy employment situations.

It is poor logic to be tricked by a lowly back-bench Liberal incumbent and allow them to convince you that he/she was not involved.  These matters were and are all discussed in closed caucus meetings in which your incumbent Liberal MPP attended and voted to approve before things like EHealth, Samsung contracts, the Orng Medivac fiasco or the gas powered electricity plants cancellations were hatched.

Don’t be fooled by fools.  Old saying applies.  Fool us once and it’s your fault but fool us twice and it’s our fault.

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