12/6/11

Four ambulance salaries unreported? What about the real problem?

The Toronto Star ran a top of the front page news report yesterday on how the publicly-operated Ornge air ambulance service stopped reporting the salaries of four of its top bosses a few years back.  The excuse the organization is peddling, apparently, is that it has set up some for-profit companies legally separate from Ornge and so does not have to report the salaries under the law.


Today, the Star editorialists got in quite a lather about this concluding, "it's up to (Health Minister Deb) Matthews to bring greater transparency to a company that provides a vital public health service and spends quite a lot of taxpayer dollars doing it."


This over four unreported salaries?  Wow, call the Mounties.


I suppose this does qualify as news, however.  Public providers should report publicly -- and not skirt the rules.


But, step back, and the real scandal isn't that the salaries of four public sector bosses aren't reported.


Rather it's that the multitude of for-profit corporations who are also funded by the public purse almost certainly have scads of people raking in over $100, 000 -- and they do not have to report how many or how much they are making.  The for-profits (unlike public providers) don't have to report.  Even though these publicly funded, private corporations often provide the exact same services as public, not for-profit providers  -- organizations which do have to report.


There is a world of difference.  Public providers report publicly, and that is how it should be. It's considered a scandal when they try to dodge public reporting.   In  contrast,  private corporations run on secrecy and 'commercial confidentiality' and publicly report much, much less, even when they are providing public services.


Yet there is a lot more than four people in such private corporations making over $100,000.  Multiply four by a thousand (or, more likely, ten-thousand).





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