Hamilton Spectator By Bruce Campion-Smith
OTTAWA A dramatic restructuring at ORNGE has eliminated 25 senior jobs as managers take a broom to the costly legacy of former boss Chris Mazza and his global ambitions for the air ambulance agency.
The bad news went out Wednesday at ORNGE’s Mississauga headquarters as managers got word that positions had been changed or eliminated altogether in a shake-up expected to save about $1 million.
Dr. Andrew McCallum, ORNGE’s president and CEO, suggested that the agency, with about 650 employees, was top heavy with managers, the result of Mazza’s plans to take ORNGE global.
“There were an awful lot of managerial levels for that many employees,” McCallum said, adding that the goal was to streamline the organization and get rid of positions with “ad hoc” titles.
“That’s what had happened in the prior regime . . . . The purpose it was built for doesn’t exist anymore,” he said.
“The role of this organization has been solidified and focused on Ontario. We’re not looking at the globe anymore,” McCallum told the Star.
As a result of the reorganization, 25 positions have been eliminated. Eight positions were added and another 15 jobs were reclassified. The changes include eliminating the post of vice-president, aviation, and changing the position of vice-president, clinical affairs.
“There are no front-line jobs that have been reduced. Obviously the goal here was to maintain the frontline service. These are all management positions,” McCallum said.
Mazza had grand plans to trade ORNGE’s expertise in air ambulance work into new, for-profit global businesses. Those ambitions were ditched when Mazza lost his job as CEO and president in early 2012 after questions were raised about misspending and mismanagement. Mazza collected $9.3 million during his six-year tenure.
Though ORNGE suffered its first fatal helicopter crash last May, McCallum said the reorganization was not motivated by operational issues.
“The intent here is purely organizational. It wasn’t intended to address performance issues,” he said.
“As difficult as it was — and again there are real human beings affected by this — we have to look at . . . what does the board and what does the taxpayer and the government expect from us. They expect us to be good stewards.”
Progressive Conservative MPP Frank Klees said there’s “no question it was a bloated organization.
“There were people promoted to positions who didn’t have the experience or the qualifications for many of the titles they were given,” he said in an interview.
But Klees (Newmarket—Aurora) questioned whether the shake-up goes far enough, saying that the upper ranks of ORNGE still lack expertise in air ambulance and helicopter operations.
Klees, who has led the search at Queen’s Park for answers about ORNGE, said those concerns were laid bare in committee hearings.
“Witness after witness testified that this organization does not have the core competency to manage the operations of an air ambulance service,” Klees said.
Under Mazza’s tenure, ORNGE took over responsibility for the helicopter operations that had for years been done by a private contractor. In May 2013, an ORNGE chopper crashed in Moosonee, killing all four employees onboard.
“The insistence on continuing with the same model that Mazza cobbled together is very troubling,” Klees said. “The air operations should be handed back to organizations who know what it means to manage an aviation business.”
Torstar News Service