Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Smitherman's Liberal health-care slush fund revealed by Auditor

The stench of Smitherman continues to burn the senses and pocketbooks of Ontario's taxpayers.

Here's more on George Smitherman's disastrous role as McGuinty's health minister - see Karen Howlett's story Consultants billed Ontario thousands for personal vacations and expenses (Globe and Mail Oct.20, 2010):

"A consultant earning $1,100 a day at a hospital in Ontario billed taxpayers $7,800 for airfare to Japan for his personal vacation. Another hospital consultant charged $400 a night for a hotel room and $500 in long-distance phone charges for a three-day business trip to Chicago.

These are among the questionable consulting expenses at 16 hospitals outlined in a special report unveiled Wednesday by Jim McCarter, Ontario’s Auditor-General.

“Consultants were often selected without competition and without a clear, written-out agreement setting out exactly what they were supposed to do,” Mr. McCarter says.

The auditor conducted spot audits at 16 of the province’s 154 hospitals and found problems across the board, from the large, teaching hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area to smaller, regional hospitals. University Health Network, Canada’s largest hospital complex with three sites, Hospital for Sick Children, Guelph General Hospital and Timmins and District Hospital were all part of the audit.

Mr. McCarter told reporters that the hospitals’ use of consultants was not on the same scale as eHealth Ontario, an agency embroiled in scandal last year over the hundreds of millions of dollars it spent on consultants.

“But we found many of the same problems, including single-sourced contracts,” he said, adding that he was surprised the widely-publicized eHealth scandal did not act as a “wake-up call” for hospital boards of directors and executives.

The Ontario Hospital Association issued an apology on behalf of the province’s 154 hospitals.

“Ontarians have the right to expect that every hospital has the processes in place necessary to ensure that public funds are spent appropriately,” the OHA says.

The report also says eight of the 16 hospitals spent $1.6-million to engage consultants to lobby the provincial government, using money provided by the province for clinical and administrative activities. “We questioned the appropriateness of using government funds to pay lobbyists to help obtain more government funding,” the report says.

The 32-page report is an extension of Mr. McCarter’s audit of eHealth, released in October, 2009. Much like eHealth, a controversy that dogged the McGuinty government in the summer of 2009 and cost former health minister David Caplan his job, the hospitals also billed taxpayers for lavish meals, hotel rooms and unauthorized fees.

The McGuinty government has vowed to crack down on the practice of hospitals hiring lobbyists and announced new rules banning hospitals from using taxpayers’ money to hire lobbyists just minutes after the auditor released his report.

“Leadership means shining the light where it hasn’t been shone before,” Health Minister Deb Matthews said at a news conference. “And it means acting on what you find.”

In addition to banning hospitals from using taxpayers’ money to lobby government for more funding, their chief executive officers will have to post their expenses online, under the proposed legislation introduced on Wednesday.

The legislation also includes more stringent rules government the procurement of goods and services. If hospital executives fail to comply, their pay can be reduced.

“We need every possible dollar going to health care used for front-line health care,” Ms. Matthews declared.

The auditor’s report cites many examples where that was not happening. The consultant who vacationed in Japan, a former Health Ministry employee, reimbursed half the airfare following enquiries from the auditor’s staff.

The same consultant has been on the payroll at the hospital since 1999, the report says, earning about $275,000 a year plus taxes. He billed the hospital for travel expenses, including a one-week trip in 2008 to Hong Kong, where he was a guest speaker at a conference.

The consultant who took the business trip to Chicago was also paid $275,000 a year to fill a senior management role at a hospital, the report says. From April, 2007 to December, 2009, he also billed the hospital $97,000 in fees for other consultants and $50,000 in administrative fees, neither of which was in his contract.

The consultant billed the hospital twice for over $7,000 for a bonus, foreign exchange fees and a Christmas lunch. The report notes that the hospital paid the consultant’s “questionable” business-related expenses, and singled out the trip to Chicago and hotel charges of $700 a night for a five-day trip to Singapore.

Closer to home, the consultant billed the hospital $350 for a dinner in Toronto for three people, including $215 for alcohol.

The report says payments to consultants often were not supported with receipts. And most of the hospitals did not require board approval for large contracts with consultants or those awarded without competitive tenders.

“It’s a damning indictment of how consultants made off with thousands of dollars,” New Democratic Leader Andrea Horwath said in Question Period on Wednesday.

Ms. Horwath revealed earlier this month that at least 14 hospitals across Ontario had hired consultants.

Progressive Conservative health critic Christine Elliott says the examples cited by the auditor are just a continuation of what happened at eHealth.

“People are outraged at this huge waste of their money that should be going into front-line health care,” she told reporters."


George Smitherman's fingerprints are all over this latest scandalous revelation!

How can anyone possibly vote for this scumbag Smitherman!? (and how can Deb Matthews, Kathleen Wynne, and McGuinty actually endorse Smitherman in his bid for Toronto mayor, knowing all this!! What's that say about these Liberal inbreds?? ...and shame too on John Sewell, David Crombie and Justin mini-Trudeau.)

Smitherman's consultants were billing for vacations while Smitherman was busy telling Ontario's hospitals - like those in the Niagara Health System - to CUT their spending!!! Smitherman was closing ER's and cutting patient surgeries while his buddies went on patient-paid vacations!!

Let's remember: for years, Liberal shitbags such as St.Catharines MPP Jim Bradley denied Ontario's ombudsman access to investigate the MUSH sector, which would have included hospitals. This unbelievable largesse could have been, and should have been, detected years ago. Liberal MPP's such as Jim Bradley are responsible for allowing this kind of outrageous abuse of our tax dollars, which were supposedly going to health care, but were going to Liberal consultant buddies for vacations.


Here's hoping that the St.Catharines Standard remains true to its Liberal-friendly, Jim Bradley ass-licking form, and overlooks Bradley's long-time role in preventing ombudsman oversight into the health care sector. Bradley refused to allow the ombudsman full access into the workings of the Liberals' health care monopoly, yet now will not be held responsible for the years of abuse and outright theft of taxpayer's money within his Liberal single-payer health monopoly.

Note Auditor McCarter's astounding point that even Smitherman's eHealth scandal DID NOT act as a wake-up call to Ontario's hospital boards!! Obviously, it did not act as a wake-up call to McGuinty's Liberals either.

This is what Bradley and McGuinty and Smitherman were trying to hide from the ombudsman all along! The culture of entitlement pervading McGuinty's despotic health care monopoly is shocking. With no independent oversight - and more importantly - NO COMPETITION - these monopolist Tommy Douglas-ites DO WHATEVER they want, whenever they can get away with!!
Who's going to stop them?

When 500 Ontario patients died from c. diff infection in Smitherman's single-payer health monopoly - and Smitherman, Bradley, and McGuinty were not jailed for it - something is really wrong: there is ABSOLUTELY NO ACCOUNTABILITY. McGuinty's 'oh-just-trust-us' Liberals refused to call a public inquiry.

The Liberal government's reaction to the Auditor's report is too litle too late: Liberal MPP's such as Jim Bradley purposefully prevented independent oversight of their health care monopoly, on nothing but secretive, ideological grounds; they fraudulently underfunded their monopoly, while forcing Ontarians to endure the cuts and closures, while concurrently banning Ontarians from opting out of the single-payer OHIP scam altogether.

When NDPeers such as Horwath wake up and realize that so-called 'universal, state-run, single-payer health-care' is an abject failure, then we can take her seriously. The goal is to give patients a choice, not trap them in a state-run despotic health monopoly - right now, all we can do is listen to McGuinty's and Bradley's endless Liberal lies and duplicity. Enough already.

Help us de-monopolize Ontario's health care system, so that no politician can manipulate it.

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