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Was ORNGE really a rogue agency?

The disgraced former CEO of ORNGE, the province's air ambulance service, refused to accept any responsibility for the failings of the outfit when he appeared before a legislative committee on Wednesday. Indeed he indicated that the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care was apprised of what was going on.

In turn, Deb Matthews, the health minister, pointed her finger back at him and suggested she was not kept informed.

This is a hardly surprising exchange. In the union business, it becomes apparent pretty quickly that, for the bosses, water (and other things) flow downhill.

One of the outfits on the lower slopes is the Emergency Health Services (EHS) of the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. Mazza said he kept them in the loop. No doubt, the top bosses at the Ministry are highly impressed with the way EHS stayed on top of the air ambulance file.

While some in the media have bought the government line about the 'rogue' nature of ORNGE, the more likely story is that ORNGE was simply a little ahead of the government's curve. The result was reduced transparency, rich rewards for the bosses, business practices that could charitably be described as 'close to the edge', and poor service. But the cause of these developments was the privatization and commercialization of what should be a public service.

Despite their troubles with privatization at ORNGE and eHealth, it's apparent the government wants to privatize and commercialize more public services. The next few years will determine if they get away with it. Hopefully, the ORNGE and eHealth debacles will slow them down.

Sunday: the gory details on the privatization and commercialization of ORNGE.


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