Ontario Ombudsman André Marin Demands a More Comprehensive Mandate

Update: see previous posts – June 14, 2012 ORNGE: Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives Push Liberals for New ORNGE Probe, June 13, 2012 ORNGE: Helicopters Unavailable for Calls, Documents Show, June 6, 2012 ORNGE: Former ORNGE In-House Lawyer, Cynthia Heinz, Grilled over Marketing Contract, June 1, 2012 ORNGE: Health Ministry Probed 26 Deaths Involving ORNGE Air Ambulance Service Since 2007, May 30, 2012 ORNGE: Did Oshawa Receive An ORNGE Helicopter Base With the Influence of Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty?, May 30, 2012 ORNGE: Will Premier Dalton McGuinty Be Call to Testify at ORNGE Hearing?, May 28, 2012 ORNGE: Government Lawyer Warned Against Chris Mazza Plan, According to Leaked Documents, May 24, 2012 ORNGE: Leaked Documents Indicate that ORNGE Ran a $14.5 Million Deficit, May 18, 2012 ORNGE: Second Legislative Warrant To Be Issued for ORNGE Founder Chris Mazza, May 8, 2012 ORNGE: ORNGE Boss Chris Mazza Received Substantial Increase In Salary After Revealing to Board Another Company Had Interest In Him, May 7, 2012 ORNGE: …Physician, Heal Thyself…. Dr. Chris Mazza Too Sick to Testify Regarding His Company, May 3, 2012 ORNGE: Kelly Long “I Feel I Did a GREAT JOB for Both Pathway and ORNGE. I Feel That I DESERVED the Promotions I Received,”, May 2, 2012 ORNGE: Chris Mazza’s Girlfriend Glided Into Vice-President Position at ORNGE, April 27, 2012 ORNGE: Deb Matthews’ Proposed Bill 50 Would Block Ombudsman Oversight, April 26, 2012 ORNGE: Alf Apps May Have Engaged in Lobbying, Integrity Commissioner Says, April 25, 2012 ORNGE: ORNGE Execs’ Girlfriend, Daughter Did $6.7-million Report Using Google, April 21, 2012 ORNGE: Star’s ORNGE Investigations Nominated for Michener Award, April 20, 2012 ORNGE: Warrant To Be Generated To Compel Dr. Chris Mazza to Appear Before Queen’s Park Committee, March 31, 2012 ORNGE: Health Minister Considered Turning Funding Tap Off to ORNGE, March 27, 2012 ORNGE – Should Liberal Health Minister Deb Matthews Accept Responsibility For the ORNGE Scandal?, March 23, 2012 ORNGE – Liberals Refuse To Release Salaries of ORNGE Executives on Sunshine List, March 22, 2012 ORNGE: Ontario’s Auditor General Uncovers More Questionable Deals at ORNGE Air Ambulance Service, March 21, 2012 ORNGE: Former Ontario Liberal Health Minister Blames Ministry Officials and Board for Scandal at ORNGE, March 17, 2012 ORNGE: Auditor General Jim McCarter to Release Probe Wednesday, March 12, 2012 ORNGE: Ontarians Expected to Pay An Annual Tab of $22 Million (in addition to $150 Million) for ORNGE, March 9, 2012 ORNGE: Too Many Needless Government Agencies in Ontario, March 8, 2012 ORNGE: Demotes Top Executive Who Lied About Possessing Master of Business Administration Degree, March 7, 2012 ORNGE – Current Health Minister (Deb Matthews) Blames Former Health Minister (George Smitherman), March 6, 2012 ORNGE – Helicopters’ Tail Rotors Could Fall Off, says Frank Klees, March 5, 2012 ORNGE – How Much Did Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews Really Know?, March 2, 2012 ORNGE – Sells Gift (Chopper) from AugustaWestland Valued at $50K for $30,001.01, March 1, 2012 ORNGE – Ontario Opposition Parties Call On McGuinty to Have All-Party Probe of ORNGE, March 1, 2012 ORNGE – Some ORNGE Helicopters Unable to Enter U.S.A. Airspace, February 28, 2012 ORNGE – ORNGE Official Says He Lied About His MBA, February 28, 2012 ORNGE – ORNGE Fiasco could Hurt Ontario’s Ability to Cut Deficit: Former Deputy Health Minister, February 24, 2012 ORNGE – Where’s the $25 Million Dollars?, February 22, 2012 ORNGE – ORNGE Mistakes Disrupt Patient Care/Safety, February 22, 2012 ORNGE – Cohn: ORNGE leaves a black mark on Deb Matthews’ ambitious health reforms February 21, 2012 ORNGE – Minister of Health Refuses to Resign Over the ORNGE Scandal February 21, 2012, ORNGE – ORNGE Executives Let Taxpayers Down: Dalton McGuinty, February 19, 2012 ORNGE – Message to 400 ORNGE Employees “Shut Up or Face Criminal Charges & Jail Time”, February 16, 2012 ORNGE – Ontario Provincial Police Set to Investigate ORNGE, February 13, 2012 ORNGE Founder Chris Mazza Used Air Ambulance Expertise for His Own Business Interests, February 12, 2012 ORNGE – ORNGE Gave $1.2 million in Loans (One for a House), Plus a Huge Cash Advance, to Founder Dr. Chris Mazza Over the Past 18 Months, February 10, 2012 ORNGE – Did Alf Apps Quit Fasken Martineau or Did Fasken Martineau Quit Alf Apps?, February 8, 2012 ORNGE Scandal Teaches Belated Lessons, February 7. 2012 ORNGE – Dr. Chris Mazza, February 4, 2012 ORNGE – Paid Fasken Martineau Lawyer’s $9 Million Dollars Between 2006-2012, February 3, 2012 ORNGE – Auditor Warned Province Four Years Ago that ORNGE was “Handing Out Money Like Water”, February 3, 2012 ORNGE – Dr. Chris Mazza/Maria Renzella Terminated Without Severance, January 30, 2012 ORNGE’s Travel Medical Plan Targeted Those With $20 Million in Net Worth, January 28, 2012 Doctor Chris Mazza on Extended Indefinite Medical Leave – Needs to Answer Million$ of Questions, January 28, 2012 ORNGE Transports Patients In Dangerously Designed ORNGE Helicopters, January 26, 2012 ORNGE – ORNGE Foundation Charity Shut-Down and Closed, January 26, 2012 ORNGE – Has Appointed a New Board of Directors, January 24, 2012 ORNGE – 18 Middle-Management & Charity Program Cut, January 22, 2012 ORNGE architect George Smitherman brokered meeting between Korean officials and ORNGE, January 16, 2012 ORNGE – “The Jig is Up”, December 29, 2011 There Are Some Red Faces at ORNGE, December 27, 2011 ORNGE Hires New Spin Doctor, December 26, 2011 Doctor’s Salary Quadruples In Four (4) Years to $1.4 Million, December 20, 2011 Wanted: Paramedics for Emergency Flights on ORNGE’s Air Ambulance Helicopters, December 6, 2011 Orangeh Gonna Tell The Taxpayers How Much of Their Money You’ve Spent on Yourself ?

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Ombudsman André Marin, seen in 2011, says if he had the power to investigate ORNGE tips from whistleblowers, he might have been able to rein in the air ambulance agency sooner. Colin McConnell/Toronto Star file photo

Ontario’s watchdog says if he had the power to investigate ORNGE tips from whistleblowers and insiders, he might have been able to rein in the scandalized air ambulance agency sooner.

Ombudsman André Marin used the release of his annual report Tuesday to urge the government to give his office oversight powers in municipalities, universities, school boards and hospitals.

Last year, Marin received 18,541 complaints — up 27 per cent from 2010-11 — but was not able to investigate a record 2,539 related to the so-called MUSH sector because such institutions fall beyond his jurisdiction.

Flanked by a poster depicting a hospital as a castle surrounded by barbed wire as a citizen looks powerlessly in while an air ambulance lands, the ombudsman said something has to change.

“Hospitals remain barred from my oversight like some kind of medieval fortress — as do the ORNGE helicopters that land there,” he said.

But Marin is optimistic Premier Dalton McGuinty is finally listening after the ORNGE scandal, which was sparked by a Toronto Star investigation.

The Star discovered a confusing web of ORNGE for-profit entities, high salaries and a questionable $6.7 million marketing agreement now being investigated by the Ontario Provincial Police.

“I had a couple conversations yesterday (Monday) with the Premier who certainly appeared to have an open mind and was asking me many questions and wanted to know what my concerns were,” he said.

Marin noted he has had 17 complaints about ORNGE since 2005, including questionable business dealings exposed by the Star, but was unable to examine them.

“Ontarians deserve stronger oversight and greater transparency,” he said.

“There is no . . . independent, impartial complaint mechanism for either hospitals or children’s aid societies — no one who has the investigative powers and independence of an ombudsman or who can resolve the kind of issues that we can.”

NDP MPP France Gélinas (Nickel Belt) warned there could be other ORNGEs lurking out there.

“I hope this year is the time where it actually happens. We need ombudsman’s oversight of the MUSH group — especially . . . over our hospitals and long-term care homes,” Gélinas told reporters.

“The system we have in place right now is slightly better than a suggestion box and this is not acceptable,” she said.

Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner, who attended Marin’s news conference, said the ombudsman deserves more authority.

“The ORNGE scandal is a stark reminder of how important oversight and accountability is, especially when government delegates public service delivery to private players,” said Schreiner.

“The Liberals’ privatization agenda will further erode transparency and accountability without . . . oversight. Look no further than ORNGE for the possible results.”

However, Progressive Conservative MPP Steve Clark (Leeds—Grenville) isn’t sold on the idea of giving the ombudsman’s office greater powers.

Contrary to what Marin said, the government had all the tools it needed to provide oversight over ORNGE, they just didn’t use them, said Clark.

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