Tag Archives: healthcare

Election Day in Canada – May 2, 2011


Stephen Harper, Canadian politician

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Well a historic election has just taken place in Canada. The Bloc was decimated in Quebec, and almost wiped off the map. Newfoundland told Conservatives what to do with themselves. The Greater Toronto Area is painted blue and Toronto has gone NDP Orange. Also, it looks like we have our very first Green member of Parliament. So what went wrong for the Liberals? They took their support for granted. Canadians were looking for change and they did not see it in the Liberals, in Ontario. Yes, there was a lot of vote splitting, however lets be honest. Ontario has been red for a long time. This is a breakthrough for the Conservatives in Ontario. The question is, can they live up to that support?

The G.T.A is an important battleground and they better take note. As for the NDP, they better not take their Quebec support for granted. The Bloc imploded, Liberals were yesterdays news and they did not like the Conservatives. So we are left with the NDP. Jack the time to start working is now. As for the Liberals, there is a lot of soul searching.

However I will offer this advice to all parties. (1) Liberals, you need to go back to your roots. Your party is not dead. I’d rather say that it is in hibernation and healing. Canadian’s have not forgotten you, rather the opposite happened. You forgot them. Remember who you are and what you stand for. Otherwise, what is the point of the Liberal Party. It is time for you to reconnect. (2) NDP you have been given the chance to prove your worth, so do not disappoint. From the people I have spoken to many parked their vote with the NDP. Also, in Ontario, people simply love and trust Jack Layton.  It will be important, despite a majority Conservative government, that the NDP choose their battles well and fight for those who voted for them. Less we forget, as often Canadians do! (3) Conservatives fought a simple and straight-forward campaign. You delivered your message and Canadians listened. We are concerned about the economy and trust in that has been given to you. However, do not take that trust for granted. A lot of Canadians still do not trust the Conservative Party and a lot of seats were gained from vote splitting. Be careful how you govern. Canadians are watching. Do not slip to the right with arrogance. As Harper said, keep a steady ship. If you can prove your worth maybe your quality will be remembered. (4) Finally, to Elizabeth May and the Green Party. You have made Canadian history! Despite the media ignoring you, thank you for running and not giving up. The Green Party should be a wake up call to ALL parties. People voted for Elizabeth May and the Greens across Canada. Their ideas and policies should not be ignored! Summed up in Elizabeth May’s own words “amateurs built the ark and professionals built the Titanic”. People are wary in Canada and if the status-quo parties cannot deliver, Canadians may decide someone else can.

Congrats to Prime Minister Harper, who has finally gotten a majority government for the Conservative Party. We will all watch, wait and see what policies are implemented and what happens in the next Parliament. See you in 2015!

By Mannee Jay

Ont. health agency scrutinized for contract tendering practices


Ont. health agency scrutinized for contract tendering practices

‘Taxpayers are really getting ripped off’: PC leader

An Ontario health agency has doled out nearly $5 million in contracts without any apparent attempt to open up the deals to outside bidders, documents obtained by CBC News show.

EHealth Ontario has come under scrutiny for its spending practices. (CBC)Contracts valued at about $4.8 million were signed off by eHealth Ontario’s CEO and president, Sarah Kramer, during the first four months of the newly formed agency’s operation, according to documents obtained by the Progressive Conservative party through a freedom of information request.

A letter regarding the request states that no procurement documents for consultant services were located “because none were created.”

EHealth was quietly set up eight months ago by the Liberal government, with the merger of the e-health program at the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care and Smart Systems for Health Agency (SSHA), an agency once mired in questions over its own operations.

The agency is tasked with developing a digital record system by 2015 to allow health-care providers to electronically share patient information to prevent medical errors and reduce costs.

Kramer defended her organization’s procurement policy, saying the quick transition period and the amount of money being invested in eHealth justified single-sourcing the contracts in many cases.

“It is appropriate and it’s under most policies in public and private sector to bring in sole-source vendors when you need to do something very quickly and you need some specialized services,” Kramer said.

A procurement expert said contracts should be open to competition unless they involve legal services, an urgent circumstance or a patented product unique to a single supplier.

Examples of some of the most lucrative contracts handed out during the first months of eHealth’s operation were $915,160 to health-care consulting firm Courtyard Group, and two contracts in a single day to Accenture Inc. that topped $1 million.

All but one of the listed consulting contracts surpassed $100,000, the cutoff at which provincial agencies are required to put a contract out to tender in order to ensure a fair and open playing field for companies.

No evidence has been found that the contracts were tendered on Merx, Ontario’s designated website for such government agreements.

Kramer’s spending

Hiring outside consultants also would allow eHealth Ontario to skirt the so-called “sunshine law” that requires provincial agencies to publicize the names of employees with salaries of $100,000 or more.

Sarah Kramer is the CEO and president of eHealth Ontario. Sarah Kramer is the CEO and president of eHealth Ontario. (CNW Group/eHealth Ontario)The agency already employed 164 people whose annual salary topped $100,000 in 2008, according to its website.

Documents show Kramer earns a base salary of $380,000 and received a $114,000 bonus in March, about five months after her start date.

The next month, Kramer announced in a memo that the company was cutting back on employee bonuses.

“After considerable discussion, we have decided to proceed with merit and bonus payouts, but scale them back to reflect current economic realities and the organization’s performance this past year,” the memo states.

Receipts also show Kramer spent at least $800 on limousine rides, including one priced at $408 from her home to London, Ont., and a couple in Boston.

Kramer came under scrutiny for her expenditures in early April when opposition parties complained about the $51,500 she spent on her new office furniture, a cost defended by Health Minister David Caplan as a startup cost typical to new agencies.

Ontario Auditor General Jim McCarter has been probing spending at eHealth and its predecessor, SSHA, since late last year. His findings are scheduled to be published in his annual report this December.

Interim PC Leader Bob Runciman called for the health minister to explain the apparent lack of competitive bidding for the projects and called the expenses upsetting given the economic downturn.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s all sorts of problems with this agency where taxpayers are really being — I think it’s not going overboard to say — getting ripped off by this agency and their practices,” Runciman said.

Alberta consultants flown in

Spending at eHealth and its predecessor swelled to more than $800 million in the past six years, while the date for release of its electronic patient health records has been pushed back three years to 2015.

SSHA was blasted in January 2007 when an operational review done by Deloitte Consulting said it lacked a strategic plan, had a poor reputation among the health-care community it was supposed to serve and was not being held accountable by Queen’s Park.

Set up in 2002, SSHA also struggled to move away from a dependence on consultants. A 2004-2005 annual report documents “intense” efforts to reduce reliance on consultants by doubling permanent staff.

Media reports suggest SSHA spent about an average of 17 per cent of its budget each year on consultants.

Also, two of eHealth’s consultants — Allaudin Merali and Donna Strating — are listed as senior vice-presidents on the agency’s website but live in Alberta, with their regular commute into Ontario funded by taxpayer dollars.

Documents released Wednesday show each charges about $2,700 a day for their services. The two also bill the agency for regular flights, accommodation in Toronto plus a per diem for meals and other costs. Among the receipts are two $3.26 bills for a muffin and can of pop.

The total cost for the two amounts to about $1.5 million a year.

EHealth’s CEO defended the costs of flying two consultants in, saying Alberta has the “best record in eHealth in the country.”

“They’ve come in and really helped us get back on board and start moving forward. So we’re paying market rates for people who are the best and the brightest in the business,” Kramer said.

Close ties

Questions are also being raised about a further $1 million in apparently untendered contracts awarded in the early months of the agency’s transition to Courtyard Group, on top of the single $915,160 deal.

Michael Guerriere, a managing partner of Courtyard Group, was also named as eHealth’s interim senior vice-president of strategy at one point, and billed more than $3,000 a day as a consultant.

Guerriere’s wife, Miyo Yamashita, heads another firm, Anzen Consulting, that benefited from more than $300,000 in eHealth contracts.

Yamashita charged about $300 an hour for communications advice and services that included:

  • Reading New York Times articles on diabetes and electronic health records from her husband.
  • Reviewing Kramer’s holiday voicemail greeting and confirming details for a seasonal party.
  • Debriefing during a chat on the subway.

If you have information on this story, send an email to yournews@cbc.ca.

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Why you should not ignore Jack! Is it time for a new vision for Canada?


Maybe its time for change? Maybe its time for a new Prime Minister? We like to think the Tories are the best for managing deficits, however, Ronald Reagan, Brian Mulroney, Mike Harris (Ernie Eves), George Bush and now maybe Harper, will show us that maybe those ideologies just do not work? The Conservatives say that our fundamentals are sound. However, who are they fooling. They are not true Libertarians. There own platforms calls for an approx 1-2 % growth. Economist say that this is highly optimistic, if not deceptive. With the U.S slowdown it is more likely to be a 1-2 % downward turn. That amounts to, in a recent broadcast on CBC Newsworld of a 3.3 billion dollar shortfall. Hmmm! Sounds familiar? Remember Ernie Eves? Yes, Ontario was left with a large deficit, even though our “fundamentals were sound” in Ontario. Makes me wonder, what are the Conservatives going to cut in order to balance the books? Will there be some form of privatization of Healthcare or key Government corporations? Read more below from a recent National Post article on Jack Layton. It maybe time for Canadians to give the guy a chance.  By: Isaac Thomas / G.T.A Patriot Contributor

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By: John Ivison, National Post
Published: Monday, September 29, 2008

Jack Layton

Jack Layton

Jack Layton has never really been taken seriously. Beyond the fiercely partisan types who crowded into a community centre just off Danforth Avenue yesterday, the NDP leader has always been regarded as a harmless buffoon — a man so smug, he’d drink his own bathwater. Jack — let’s call him Jack — has always said outrageous things and nobody has paid too much attention to this point.

But perhaps it’s time people actually started listening.

The NDP leader unveiled his party’s platform yesterday in front of a boisterous crowd in his own riding. It was a virtuoso performance.

“Friends, I sense a real excitement out there. A sense of hope that this time, in this election, we can really make a difference,” he said.

“And maybe we can even make a little history.”

If current polling trends continue, he could do just that, by taking possession of the keys to Stornoway, the residence of the leader of the Official Opposition. The NDP started the campaign as much as 19 points behind the Liberals — some polls now put them in a statistical tie.

On the surface, much of the New Democrat platform will seem appealing to many Canadians — families would receive an enhanced child benefit payment of up to $400 a month; billions would be spent on affordable housing; students would be given a $1,000-a-year grant; more doctors would be hired and their loans forgiven if they work in family medicine; and everyone would get an extra day off work in February. Unlike in days of yore, this would not mean plunging the country into deficit. Budgets would be balanced and personal income taxes would be held steady.

In short, Jack made a convincing case that if he became prime minister, we could trust him to spend our money wisely. There he is in his campaign literature, sleeves rolled up, in the living rooms of the hard-pressed Canadian families helping them make ends meet. No wonder he’s flying high in the polls — he’s identified real problems, real issues and promised real solutions.

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Will private Healthcare work in Canada?


I still say “NO”! The main argument for permitting a two tier private alternative system is that this would cause better overall access to care and relieve pressure on the public system. The problem with this argument is that there is no data to truly support this, especially for a country like Canada.  Albeit I am open to a discussion on the matter. There are a lot of ethical questions on both sides that need to be answered. The obvious advantage would be to those who could afford to pay or to purchase additional private health care insurance. In reality the major effect of allowing a private option would be to move resources from the public system into the private system, causing weakening of public system access. No matter how much advocates try to say otherwise, the result is clear. There is no doubt that there are issues surrounding access to public health care in general, however, going down the line of privatization will not help the majority of Canadians. There must be a better way!

Health and Social Services Funding Gap in GTA/905 Continues to Widen


GTA/905 residents are still falling further behind the rest of Ontario in terms of the provincial funding for local hospital care and social services according to a report issued today by the Strong Communities Coalition.

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