After more than 12 months, today Ontario’s Chief Coroner delivered his long-awaited report into hundreds of patient deaths in which operational issues pertaining to air ambulance transport by the Ornge Air Ambulance service may have affected patient outcomes.
Newmarket-Aurora MPP Frank Klees, the PC Party’s lead on the committee investigating the Ornge scandal, wasted no time in accusing the Minister of Health, Deb Mathews, her Deputy Saad Rafi and senior ministry staff for their lack of oversight of Ornge.
“This report confirms what we’ve been saying for months and what the Minister has been blindly and irresponsibly denying,” said Klees. “Even while witnesses were telling us under oath that lives were being put at risk through Ornge mismanagement, the Minister and her senior bureaucrats defended this organization in the same hearings. No patients have died, we were told by the Deputy Minister under oath. Rather than defend front line staff and patients, he and the Minister chose to defend the Ornge organization.”
Klees said he finds it disturbing that the scope of the report excluded many of the cases referred to the Coroner’s office for investigation. “We will never know the true impact of Ornge mismanagement and the ministry’s failure to properly oversee its operations,” said Klees. “It’s concerning that the report acknowledges that not all cases in which Ornge operations were directly responsible for patient deaths may have been captured in this review.”
“Witness after witness testified that wrong-headed management decisions and incompetence were directly responsible for putting patients at risk,” said Klees. “The Minister of Health dismissed those warnings. This report affirms the concerns that were expressed by front line Ornge paramedics and pilots and exposes the failure of the Minister and her senior bureaucrats to oversee this essential emergency service.”
“This report confirms that the evidence presented to our Committee by front line staff at Ornge should have been acted on immediately. It also confirms what we have been saying for months – namely, that Ornge should not be in the aviation business. They do not have the experience at the management level to competently operate a complex aviation business. That part of the operation should be placed back into the hands of an experienced and capable aviation operator. Not to do so is to continue to put front line paramedics, pilots and patients at risk.”
Klees called for the Public Accounts Committee investigating Ornge to be immediately reconstituted so that it can deal with the Coroner’s Report. Prior to recessing for the summer, the NDP sided with the Liberals to suspend the Ornge hearings for the summer.
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