More contracting-out problems for the Ontario Liberals?

The Toronto Sun reports that tomorrow the Ontario Auditor General Jim McCarter will release a follow-up to his  report on contracting-out by eHealth Ontario, a report that set out some pretty rotten contracting-out practices.

The Auditor General told the Sun his office was asked to conduct spot audits on the use of consultants at the Ontario Ministry of Health, Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and hospitals.

“We look at the procurement and oversight of consultants at the ministry,” McCarter said of his 30-page report. “We picked a few LHINs to have a look at and we went out to a number of hospitals to have a look at consultants’ procurement and use and ... (the report says) here’s what we found”.

When the Auditor General's report on eHealth came out in October 2009, Toronto Star columnist Jim Coyle noted that the Auditor General had highlighted the near total reliance on outside consultants at e-Health. By 2008, the eHealth Program Branch had almost 300 consultants compared to fewer than 30 full-time employees.

"Relying too heavily on consultants can be costly," the Auditor said. "Consultants are generally a lot more expensive than employees, and when they finish a project, they leave, often taking with them the expertise needed to maintain and operate the system they helped develop."

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak said he suspects the new report from the Auditor will expose a continuing pattern of using consultants inappropriately, similar to the revelations at eHealth Ontario and Cancer Care Ontario.

The eHealth contracting-out scandal helped force out the Health Minister David Caplan, along with the CEO of eHealth, and the board chair of eHealth, so the Conservatives may be hoping for more damage to the Liberal government.


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