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article imageMcGuinty takes blame for Ontario eHealth scandal

By Stephanie Dearing     Jun 18, 2009 in Health
Even though his resignation has been demanded for the last few weeks, Ontario's Health Minister, David Caplan is thus far the only person to not have any flack from the Ehealth scandal affecting him.
Yesterday Ontario's Premiere, Dalton McGuinty, removed Dr. Alan Hudson as chair of eHealth Ontario. Hudson had a reputation as a man who could "fix anything in health care."
McGuinty further took responsibility for the spending scandal, saying stricter guidelines should have been in place. "I take responsibility for this," McGuinty said. "We should have had tougher rules in place."
This admission comes after weeks of defending eHealth spending practices by Minister of Health and Long-term Care, David Caplan. McGuinty's new stance on eHealth comes after weeks of avoiding the issue, saying that while things seemed odd, there wasn't much call for the Ontario government to do in the interim.
On June 4, McGuinty said "Some things have taken place there that we simply cannot condone, ... I think the fair thing to do in the circumstance is to allow the auditor general to do his work," he added," refusing to fire Dr. Hudson or then-CEO, Sarah Kramer, who has since resigned.
McGuinty changed course on his position after a new report made by CTV Toronto came out, highlighting more outrageous expenses that eHealth consultants expected to have reimbursed.
"One consultant billed $300 per hour over voicemail and video greetings and to draft a voicemail script ; another charged $200 per hour to discuss website issues such as italicizing "eHO" and the consistency of spelling eHealth; and a third billed $300 per hour to review holiday banners and write a script for former CEO Sarah Cramer, who stepped down on the weekend, to read at the staff Christmas party."
McGuinty announced new rules that will apply across all Ontario ministries and agencies. Contracts will no longer be awarded to consultants without a competitive process and there will be new rules as to what expenses consultants will be allowed to bill for in the future. The Toronto Star reported this morning that McGuinty said:
"the changes come because taxpayers "have good reason to be upset" about loose financial controls that saw about $5 million in contracts given to consulting firms without competing bids and saw several consultants who were paid $2,700 a day expensing snacks and meals."
There was no word from David Caplan yesterday, although opposition critics still call for his resignation. Rita Burak has been appointed to replace Dr. Alan Hudson. Burak most recently served as Chairwoman at Ontario's Hydro One.
eHealth was created by the Ontario government to create a system for sharing of patient information through electronic records.
More about Ehealth, Dalton McGuinty, Ontario
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