e-Health Ontario agency review scrapped

The Liberal government has quietly scrapped a mandatory review of a new health bureaucracy.

Premier Dalton McGuinty says the legislative review, which was to have taken place by the end of March, was dropped because Ontario’s 14 Local Health Integration Networks (or LHINs) are not yet fully operational. The LHINs took effect on April 1, 2007.

“As it turns out, all of the responsibilities that we wanted the LHINs to take on, they have yet to take on,” he told the legislature.

“In particular, a big part of their new responsibilities would be long-term care (and they) have not yet done that.”

Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak said the review was much needed in light of a recent spending scandal at eHealth Ontario. Millions in untendered contracts were handed out at that agency, which was criticized as the worst-managed agency Auditor General Jim McCarter had ever seen.

Hudak contends health bureaucrats at various LHINs have handed out at least $7 million in untendered contracts. “I suspect Dalton McGuinty’s motivation is clear,” he said. “He does not want to have any more scrutiny of the growing rot at his LHINs, which resembles very much the kind of scandalous spending we saw at eHealth.”

The province designed LHINs to enable better local health planning and more local freedom in distributing health dollars to the neediest recipients. Ottawa is part of the Champlain LHIN, which co-ordinates and funds hospitals, community care access centres, addictions and mental health agencies, community support services, community health centres and long-term care homes across eastern Ontario. It is headed by Dr. Robert Cushman.

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