Frank Klees

Press Release



April 25, 2012

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Klees: Ongoing Testimony Exposes Health Minister’s Excuses

Investigation into Ornge Scandal Reaches a Turning Point

(Queen’s Park) – Today during the Public Accounts Committee’s investigation into the ongoing scandal at Ornge, it was confirmed that Health Minister Deb Matthews misled the Legislative Assembly and Ontarians, on her supposed inability to intervene and stop the abuse and corruption.

“Minister Matthews has been exposed,” PC Transportation Critic Frank Klees said. “It is now unmistakably clear that the Minster has had the power to intervene at Ornge from the very beginning, and from the moment the performance agreement was signed,” Klees added.

Lynne Golding, an attorney with Fasken Martineau Dumoulin, the law firm that served as Ornge’s general counsel, testified today that the performance agreement between Ornge and the Health Ministry was the product of ten months of work and provided the Minister with complete oversight, and that the Ministry has the authority to hold Ornge accountable.

According to Ms Golding, in addition to the contractual authority under the performance agreement with Ornge, “the Ministry has great powers of moral suasion,” and that she does not know how or why the Health Minister could argue she was powerless to stop the waste and mismanagement.

Ms Golding also confirmed that the federal incorporation of Ornge did not prevent the Minister from intervening. In fact, at least five Ontario hospitals are similarly incorporated.

“Today’s testimony was a turning point. The government’s excuses have been refuted by key witnesses, including the former Ornge Chairman and chief legal counsel,” Klees added. “The government and the Minister of Health, in particular, have been indicted by those most intimately involved.”

For several months, the Minister of Health has argued that she was powerless to intervene and that she was stymied and misled by Ornge.

“The former Chairman of Ornge and two senior lawyers from Ornge’s general counsel maintain that the government, including senior cabinet ministers, were kept fully briefed on Ornge’s activities,” said Klees. “There is absolutely no possible way the government and the Minister can claim they were unaware of what was happening. The Minister owes the people of Ontario an apology.”

Ms Golding testified that while they advised Ornge that disclosing salaries paid through the for-profit companies was not legally required, it would be advisable to do so. The firm also informed management that the government had the ability to force Ornge’s for-profit companies to reveal their executive compensation. The government, however, took no action.

“What’s clear is that Ornge rejected the legal advice of at least two senior partners at its law firm in favour of advice from high-ranking Liberal insiders, namely Liberal Party President, Alfred Apps,” Klees added.

“The government has been discredited. It’s evident that Minister Matthews was less than truthful throughout this entire process. In light of this revelation, the Minister has no choice but to step aside,” Klees concluded.

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Frank Klees, MPP

416 -325-7316