Frank Klees

 

Frankly Speaking

 

Article By Frank Klees
February 14, 2012

 

                                                    Another Scandal Brewing...

 

When I raised questions in the legislature concerning the questionable business practices and waste of health care dollars at Ornge, the province's now infamous air ambulance service, the Minister of Health brushed those warnings aside and insisted all was well.

We now know that ignoring those warnings allowed millions of taxpayers' dollars to be wasted and may well have resulted in the loss of innocent lives.

Another scandal brewing...

On November 22nd of last year, I hand-delivered a letter to the Minister of Transportation, in which I raised concerns about his ministry's role in awarding of a contract under very questionable circumstances.

Specifically, the letter questioned why the Ministry of Transportation was forcing the City of Toronto and the TTC to sign a deal for an electronic fare card system they had already rejected.

The letter pointed out that the TTC preferred a competing bid, which had gone through an open, public tendering process, and would save taxpayers more than $300 million in capital costs alone.

In addition, the ACS fare card system offers advanced technology that would allow commuters to use their own credit or debit cards.

On December 7th, I again raised the issue in the legislature only to have the Minister brush it aside with a glib assurance that all was well.

More unanswered questions...

Since I first became aware of this issue, sources at the TTC confirmed that not only did the Ministry of Transportation offer to pick up the additional $300 million in capital costs to implement its Presto card system, but also threatened to withhold other infrastructure funding, including gas tax revenue, if it didn't cooperate.

At a time when the government is facing serious fiscal challenges, and is looking to Don Drummond to help them find efficiencies and savings in the delivery of government services, we find it disturbing that this same government is turning a blind eye to the blatant waste of almost half a billion of taxpayers' dollars.

The more questions we ask, the more disturbing this file becomes. I'll be calling on the Minister of Transportation to answer some tough questions over the next few days. The taxpayers of our province deserve answers.

Why was a public tender interfered with? How can the ministry justify wasting $300 million? Who are the masterminds of this deal and who stands to benefit? Why would the TTC Chair and Commissioners allow themselves to be coerced into doing this deal?

I'll keep you posted...

As always, I welcome your comments and advice. I can be reached through my website at www.frank-klees.on.ca or at
905-750-0019.

 

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