It was just on June.20, 2008, that Ontarians received the wonderful news that incompetent Liberal ideologue George Smitherman was shuffled out as health minister. (see: here)
That was five years wasted.
So, in came David Caplan, the fumbling patsy who was used by a cornered McGuinty as a sandbag to take the heat for Smitherman's festering screw-ups.
Another 16 months wasted.
Now, on Oct.7, 2009, Caplan has resigned - mercifully - and McGuinty has called in replacement Deb Matthews up to bat, as the new Liberal health care monopolist.
Let's see how long it will take for Matthews to say, as did Caplan, 'Oh, I'm not familiar with this or that particular file or issue, I'm still on a learning curve...' (see: here)
Well, that'll be another half-year or so wasted; another half-year of obstruction and stonewalling...
McGuinty's crocodile-contrition today about Liberals 'taking responsibility', and that 'we should have known', was pathetic. Really.
McGuinty and his Liberal capos such as St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley knew full well that their health monopoly was all ideology and little accountability. (see: here)
The McGuintyites simply hid and ignored the problems. They ignored questions from their own constituents and from patients. (see: here)
They hid from scrutiny and accountability at every instance, stonewalling and delaying and obstructing any efforts to investigate the various layers of their health monopoly.
Lee Greenberg and Kenyon Wallac wrote in "Health Minister Caplan resigns", (National Post, Oct.7, 2009):
"Ontario Health Minister David Caplan is resigning in the wake of a spending scandal at a provincial agency expected to come under heavy criticism in a report to be tabled by the province's Auditor-General this morning.
A spokesman for Mr. Caplan confirmed the resignation last night. "We were going to do this [Wednesday] and we're still going to do it [Wednesday]," Greg Dennis said. "I'm just confirming that his resignation is pending."
The news came on the eve of the release of a report by Auditor-General Jim McCarter that outlines details of what are expected to be massive spending improprieties at eHealth and its predecessor agency, Smart Systems for Health Agency (SSHA).
SSHA came under heavy criticism for spending more than $600-million over six years with little to show for it. The Liberal government intends to create a digital record containing the medical history of every Ontario resident by 2015.
Spending excesses continued when eHealth was established in September 2008.
According to documents unearthed last spring under freedom-of-information legislation, the agency spent at least $15-million on single-sourced contracts, at times to Liberal-friendly firms. That figure is expected to grow significantly - to as much as $1-billion - this morning when Mr. McCarter tables his report on the agency and Ministry spending practices.
In an interview with the National Post, Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak called Mr. Caplan's resignation "long overdue."
"I think it says more about Dalton McGuinty than David Caplan," Mr. Hudak said. "Premier McGuinty dodged, delayed and stone-walled for six months until the Auditor-General's report finally smoked him out. No doubt, after six years in office, the rot has set deep in the McGuinty Liberal government."
Mr. Caplan's resignation is expected to prompt a Cabinet shuffle today as the Premier looks for a replacement.
Mr. McCarter's report is to show that years before eHealth was created, the Ministry was awarding contracts to consultants without a competitive bidding process.
Media reports last night suggested that in some cases, bidding took place more as a formality than a true competition.
Other spending excesses were uncovered at eHealth, including paying two consultants the equivalent of approximately $700,000 per year, while allowing them to bill the agency for such trivial things as a Tim Hortons doughnut and a nightly glass of wine.
Initially, Mr. Caplan responded by ordering a third-party audit of eHealth.
Weeks before that audit's deadline, however, Mr. Caplan cancelled the audit by claiming it duplicated Mr. McCarter's work.
Opposition parties have been calling for Mr. Caplan's resignation for months, since the spending scandal at eHealth first surfaced. But up until yesterday, Mr. Caplan had rebuffed calls for his resignation and defended his handling of spending at eHealth.
"I would say that eHealth has shown progress in a number of areas," Mr. Caplan told Canwest News in an interview in June, shortly after documents surfaced showing the agency had awarded $5-million in untendered contracts in the first four months of its existence, many of them to friends of senior management.
The Minister maintained at the time that he was not aware that eHealth was spending money through single-source contracts - a practice Mr. McGuinty has since banned.
"They don't share with me their decisions on operational matters," said Mr. Caplan, who became Health Minister in June 2008 after George Smitherman left the post to become Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Renewal and Deputy Premier.
It was under Mr. Smitherman's watch, from 2003 to 2008, that some of the questionable spending practices expected to be outlined in the Auditor-General's report took place.
Mr. Hudak suggested Mr. Smitherman should also lose his post.
"I would expect that Minister Smitherman may also be leaving Cabinet given that some of this happened under his watch as Health Minister, and he already has one foot in the Mayor's campaign office," Mr. Hudak said, referring to rumours that Mr. Smitherman may be a contender for the Toronto mayoralty race in 2010.
New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath accused the government of attempting to pre-empt the political damage it will suffer as a result of the Auditor-General's report by having Mr. Caplan resign.
"The resignation doesn't do anything to change the fact that the government has allowed hundreds of millions of precious health-care dollars to be squandered by an elaborate network of well-connected insiders getting sweetheart deals," Ms. Horvath said last night.
Shortly after the spending scandal at eHealth surfaced, the government revoked the contract of chief executive Sarah Kramer, replacing her with a deputy minister. Ms. Kramer was issued a severance package worth almost $318,000.
Ms. Kramer's departure was followed a few days later by the resignation of Dr. Alan Hudson, volunteer chairman of eHealth's board."
It's interesting that a smug McGuinty, suddenly, after six years and a billion plus (that we know of so far) wasted tax-dollars, has now decided to ban single source contracts !!!
So, the question now becomes: when will McGuinty and his hypocritical crew of Liberal health-care monopolists apply that very same concept to their own cosy OHIP single-payer monopoly?
When will McGuinty admit that the Liberal's single-payer, non-competitive OHIP monopoly is similarly also a single-source, non-competitive contract, forced upon the patients of Ontario?
When will new health minister Deb Matthews explain why OHIP is treated differently?