Liberals attempt to shut down Ornge hearings, silence critics Barrett calls for Health Minister’s resignation

Aug. 1, 2012

(Queen’s Park) – The McGuinty Liberal government has moved to shut down legislative hearings into the ongoing Ornge air ambulance scandal.

Liberal committee member and MPP for Guelph, Liz Sandals, introduced a motion yesterday requesting that the Public Accounts committee cease its questioning of key witnesses and immediately proceed to the report writing stage, thereby ending all public hearings into what transpired at the scandal-plagued agency.

Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett is flabbergasted, saying the motion flies in the face of democracy.

“This is nothing but a blatant attempt by the Liberals to silence criticism of its inaction,” Barrett said. “Committee questioning is exposing Liberal incompetence and mismanagement.”

Serious questions remain concerning Health Minister Deb Matthews’ failure to take action and provide oversight of Ornge as several million dollars worth of public funds are currently unaccounted for and evidence of compromised patient safety and political interference continues to come to light.

Barrett questioned what the Liberals are hiding.

Witness after witness revealed Matthews was apprised of updates in the Ornge fiasco as it unfolded. It reached a point that Barrett’s Opposition colleague Frank Klees called for Matthews’ resignation.

The minister appeared yesterday for a second time before a legislative committee investigating the Ornge scandal where she was confronted with an internal Ministry of Health document raising numerous concerns about the financial dealings of Ornge. Written by senior bureaucrats and copied to six high-ranking ministry officials, the document states that the Ontario government is on the hook for the $300 million debt incurred by Ornge.

“I simply don’t believe the minister when she insists she never saw this document,” said Klees. “If it’s true that six senior bureaucrats didn’t give that information to her, then they should be given their walking papers along with the minister.”

“The minister has provided us with a number of excuses, all of which range from pure nonsense to absurd and bizarre fiction,” Klees said. “Not once has the minister proffered an even remotely justifiable explanation for her complete abdication of leadership.”

The committee has heard from 54 witnesses, the overwhelming majority of whom have testified that the Ministry of Health and Minister of Health were kept fully and painstakingly informed of all actions and policies at Ornge.

Barrett reiterated the demand that Matthews resign, saying she should be held accountable.


For more information, contact MPP Toby Barrett