Frank Klees

Health Care Accountablity

Ornge Air Ambulance Service April 2011

Other videos of Frank in Question Period

Other press releases and news clips on Ornge

McGuinty Gov't Ignored Warnings of Turbulence on Air Ambulance Organization Jan 12, 2012

Press Release : ORNGE has Ontarians seeing RED January 9, 2012

ORNGE president was paid $1.4 million per year

Toronto Star Article Dec 22 , 2011 by Kevin Donovan see full article

In the words of provincial conservative critic Frank Klees, Mazza was an “empire builder.” Klees raised the issues of lack of oversight on ORNGE over the past eight months in the legislature.

“(Premier) Dalton McGuinty and (Health Minister) Deb Matthews defended Mazza. They defended what was indefensible. Now it is time for Dalton McGuinty to take control of an out-of-control agency,” Klees said Thursday.

Question period April 5 2011 Question Period April 13, 2011 Question Period April 21, 2011



April 5, 2011


Mr. Frank Klees: To the Minister of Health. In 2007, the McGuinty government converted the Ontario air ambulance and critical care land ambulance service to a not-for-profit corporation. As has been the practice of this government, that was done without a competitive process. Since that time, the cost of providing air ambulance services in this province has increased by more than 450%. Can the minister tell us why costs have been allowed to get out of hand through this organization and why have the appropriate accountability measures not been put in place?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I welcome the question and I do have to say that I think it’s very important that when people need health care and they need to be transported by helicopter or by plane to get that care, we need to be there to get them the care they need as quickly as possible. I would hope that the member opposite is not suggesting that we actually cut air ambulance services. We do know that the party is determined to cut health care. I hope this is not a signal that air ambulance is what they are planning to cut.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Frank Klees: The minister came awfully close but didn’t go quite as far as the Premier chooses to do in this place and that is to absolutely and grossly misrepresent and tell—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I’d ask the honourable member to withdraw the comment he has just made.

Mr. Frank Klees: I withdraw that. The fact is the Premier insists on speaking untruths about the intention—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Withdraw the comment, please.

Mr. Frank Klees: I will withdraw the comment and get back to the question.

We want to ensure that all of those essential emergency services through air ambulance are delivered in the most efficient, reliable and accountable way. Will the minister agree to call on the Auditor General to conduct a value audit on this organization to ensure that in fact we are getting our money’s-

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you.

Hon. Deborah Matthews: You know, I just have to say it is still a mystery as to what exactly their plan is. They are not actually wanting to tell us what the plan is. But what we do know for sure is that that is the party that wants to cut taxes. Whether they cut $3 billion from the HST, or $6 billion from the HST, or $3 billion from the health premium, we know on this side of the House you cannot cut taxes and fight the deficit without cutting services.

We also know that health care takes up almost half the spending in this province and you cannot cut $3 billion, $6 billion, $9 billion or whatever-the-number-is-billion dollars without cutting health care services. It is completely disingenuous to suggest that you can fight the deficit, cut taxes and improve services. So as long as that’s their plan, we will call them on it.

Ontario Hansard

April 13, 2011


Mr. Frank Klees: My question is to the Premier. The Minister of Health dismissed my previous question on the costs related to the air ambulance and critical care land ambulance organization. I’m hoping the Premier will take this more seriously.

Capital expenses attributed to Ornge for the 2008-09 fiscal year were $2.25 million. In 2009-10 they increased to $8.6 million, followed by another increase for 2010-11 to more than $12 million.

My question to the Premier is this: How much of that taxpayer-funded capital has subsidized equipment and facilities that are actually being used by the for-profit businesses that are also owned by the Ornge organization?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Finance.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: The Minister of Health is rightly proud of the achievements of the new Ornge ambulance service, which is expanding air ambulance service across the province and, as I understand it, doing it in a very, very efficient way.

I am delighted that, in fact, there is new capital and new air ambulances are available to serve remote communities. Just yesterday in my community, a little boy was hit by a car backing up, and it was an Ornge ambulance that took him from Windsor to the best care available anywhere in the world, in London.

Those investments are important. The return to taxpayers is important. It’s measured by a variety of factors, including improved service and improved care for all of our people.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Frank Klees: No one is arguing about the importance of air ambulance.

This is the annual report for this organization. In every one of its pages, there is not one reference to financial information, not one, yet 12 million of taxpayers’ dollars have been transferred to this company. They have just moved into a new $3-million facility.

I am asking this of the Premier: How many health care dollars transferred to Ornge are being used to subsidize parts of this business that are for-profit, that are owned by this Ornge organization? Can he tell me that, or does he know?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: I can assure the Legislature and the people of Ontario that the contractual arrangements with Ornge protect the interest of taxpayers unequivocally. We believe that these investments—and this is one of the reasons we engaged Ornge. You can see their new facilities at the Toronto Island airport. You can see the air ambulances themselves throughout the province of Ontario.

I’m glad the member opposite is talking about how money is used and where this money gets found, because the people of Ontario would like to know where we’re going to find the $3 billion in cuts in health care if they cut the HST. I can assure the—


The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The member from Renfrew will withdraw the comment that he made.


Mr. John Yakabuski: I don’t know how he can keep lying about that.


Mr. John Yakabuski: Withdraw.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Minister?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: I can assure the people of Ontario that the arrangements with Ornge are proper. The service is outstanding, and by the way, when that member and his party were in office, they refused to make the appropriate investments in air ambulance service, particularly to the north, that were so desperately needed.


April 21, 2011 Two Questions


Mr. Frank Klees: My question is to the Premier. The Minister of Finance and the Minister of Health have repeatedly refused to answer questions relating to the financial arrangements between the Ministry of Health and Ornge, the organization under contract with the government to deliver air ambulance services. According to Tom Lepine, chief operating officer at Ornge, taxpayers have no right to that financial information. Does the Premier agree with the chief operating officer that Ontario taxpayers have no right to the financial information of an organization that receives millions of dollars from the Ministry of Health every year?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Health.

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Ornge, of course, is an ambulance service. They provide critical air ambulance services to Ontarians in many parts of this province. In fact, throughout the province we rely on Ornge to get people to the care they need as quickly as possible. Through Ornge we have been able to increase access to emergency medical transportation, especially for Ontarians in northern and remote communities.

We fund Ornge through a transfer payment agreement. We have an accountability agreement with Ornge ensuring that they provide Ontarians with air ambulance services, with base hospitals, with organ recoveries and with air paramedic training certification. They provide over 20,000 admissions a year, which improves health care for Ontarians.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Frank Klees: One hundred and fifty million dollars are being transferred to this organization by the Ministry of Health every year, and the taxpayers are told they have no right to know how those funds are being allocated. A creature created by the government that claims it is not a government agency, yet it has 116 employees on the government’s sunshine list—a so-called not-for-profit organization that has spawned a number of for-profit entities under its umbrella and refuses to disclose financial information.

I’d like to know this from the Premier: How can the Premier ignore the potential for conflict in this organization that receives multi-millions of dollars of government funds while at the same time operating a number of for-profit entities? Can the Premier see the conflict?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: The member opposite would know that Ornge is a non-profit corporation. It receives government funding. As a result, they are required to report to the sunshine list any employees that make over $100,000 per year. I understand that they have frozen non-union compensation since 2008.

I’m sure the member opposite is interested to know that the Auditor General is in fact looking at Ornge right now and is doing a value-for-money audit. I know we certainly all look forward to the results of that audit.


Mr. Frank Klees: To the Premier: Taxpayers expect us to get answers to the basic questions we’ve been asking about the financial affairs at Ornge, a not-for-profit charitable organization created by fiat of this government under the direction of a former Minister of Health. The minister’s chief of staff now has a senior position at Ornge.

Multi-millions of public assets were absorbed by that organization without public tender.

Overhead, administration, salaries and capital costs are paid by taxpayers. For-profit entities are doing business under the same roof, and there is no disclosure of the financial relationship of those businesses.

I ask again: Does the Premier not share our concerns over the potential conflicts inherent in this organization, and will he not agree to ensure that—

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Premier?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Health.

Hon. Deborah Matthews: As I said in the earlier—


The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Stop the clock.

Minister of Health.

Hon. Deborah Matthews: As I said in the earlier question, I am delighted that the Auditor General is, in fact, looking at Ornge. I want to assure you that Ornge is co-operating fully with the Auditor General. We are looking forward, as we always do, to what the Auditor General recommends to us. As we have always done, we will respond to the recommendations of the Auditor General. We look forward to that.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Frank Klees: Now we know why the “A” is missing from Ornge: It obviously stands for accountability, and it’s nowhere to be found anywhere in that organization.

I want to ask the Premier this: Since this issue was raised here in the Legislature I have received numerous emails from employees, people in administration, pilots and paramedics in that organization giving inside information about what is going on there. Will the Premier agree to personally accept delivery of those emails and will he agree to personally read the content of those emails so that he can know first-hand what is going on at Ornge?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Of course we would welcome that information, and I’m sure the auditor would, too. If you’ve got information you’re willing to share, we’re sure willing to accept it and pass it on to the Auditor General. Perhaps you might have done that, actually, yourself—


The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Stop the clock.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Perhaps the minister should have been looking into this herself.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Member from Renfrew.


Hon. Deborah Matthews: Speaker, you know—


The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): It didn’t take the member from Renfrew long. I just called him to order. I sit down, he interjects. Your seatmate right beside you wants to hear the answer.


Hon. Deborah Matthews: We are not going to be taking any lessons on accountability and transparency from the party opposite. They are the party that hid a $5.5-billion deficit. We passed a law requiring the Auditor General to sign off on the books of the province before the election. They are the party that kept OPG and Hydro One off the sunshine list. We are the party that brought them back on. They refused to include OPG, Hydro One, universities, hospitals under—