Update: see previous posts – 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 ?
The all-party probe into the ORNGE air ambulance scandal once again heard contradictory testimony on Wednesday regarding who crafted a $6.7 million contract now being investigated by police.
The marketing agreement, between ORNGE and helicopter giant AgustaWestland, was negotiated after the purchase of 12 helicopters from the Italian firm for $144 million.
The plan was for ORNGE to look for countries where AgustaWestland could sell choppers retrofitted as air ambulances. An ongoing Star investigation has looked into the marketing services report and found little work was done to justify the large payment.
Former ORNGE in-house lawyer Cynthia Heinz told the legislative committee examining questionable contracts, odd business dealings and a web of for-profit companies that she was not involved in the $6.7 agreement. She testified she cautioned them against accepting the money.
But the money went from AgustaWestland to another ORNGE company controlled by former ORNGE founder Dr. Chris Mazza, the committee has heard. The issue is now being investigated by Ontario Provincial Police.
New Democrat MPP France Gélinas grilled Heinz as to why she didn’t question the agreement further.
“Sitting here, it looks like you drank the Kool-aid,” Gélinas said.
“They are telling you, this is what they want to do with this money, you tell them you aren’t allowed to do it because it is illegal, they come back with this marketing agreement . . . he hired his girlfriend to do the work and the daughter of another executive to do the work and you think everything is just fine?”
Mazza hired his girlfriend Kelly Long, a former water ski instructor who quickly climbed the corporate ladder to become an associate vice-president. The committee has heard Long and Carrie Anne Brunet, a junior ORNGE executive who is the daughter of now former ORNGE chairman Rainer Beltzner, researched the marketing agreement now being investigated.
Heinz broke down in tears. She assured the committee she had “no indication anything was amiss.”
“Dr. Mazza wanted too much, too fast,” she said. “There are a lot of people who are suffering as a result.”
But Rick Potter, former ORNGE aviation boss, testified he spoke to Heinz and former executive vice-president Maria Renzella and told them the agency was paying $7 million more than it had to for the helicopters and that it was “nuts.”
Progressive Conservative MPP Frank Klees said outside committee: “Somebody is lying here. I remind people they are under oath.”
What is now needed is a “full-fledged public inquiry” where someone with a judicial responsibility is in charge, Klees said.
Mazza is now expected to testify on July 18. A second Speaker’s warrant was issued to force him to appear on Wednesday. He did not testify last month because medical doctors said he was unfit to do so.
One of the issues the MPPs want Mazza to explain is why he gave the go-ahead to build an ORNGE air hub in Oshawa against the advice of senior aviation experts. Oshawa was picked by Mazza instead of Peterborough, the committee has heard.
Oshawa pushed hard to lure ORNGE to build a base at its airport — offering to waive landing fees for 20 years, building a $62,000 taxiway and reducing fuel surcharges, according to documents obtained by the Star.
Constructing a hub in Oshawa, and another in Hamilton, would split up the Toronto Island base, which is staffed with two crews and two helicopters.
However, both decisions have now been put on hold by government officials as the hearing continues.
According to a technical overview of the Oshawa operation, also obtained by the Star, there were operational reasons as to why the municipality was not a good choice. For instance, the runways are too short, there is a high volume of flight training traffic and a high noise complaint probability.
Also on Wednesday, the probe heard from whistleblower Trevor Kidd, a paramedic who left ORNGE in 2009. He said employees are afraid to come forward and testify for fear they’ll lose their jobs.