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Privatization is bad business, ORNGE scandal proves again

Publication Date

Friday, March 23, 2012 (All day)

TORONTO - The ORNGE air ambulance spending scandal is not rooted in the Ontario government’s failure to get the information it needed to monitor the agency, but in the government’s decision to privatize the service in the first place, says the Ontario Public Service Employees Union in response to auditor general Jim McCarter’s report yesterday.

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of OPSEU, said no one should be surprised at the fallout after the Liberals privatized the air ambulance service in 2006. They gave hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money to the non-profit organization that paid exorbitant salaries to executives and set up for-profit companies to reap huge returns.

“ORNGE executives used public dollars to increase their private wealth, and they gave Ontarians less service for higher cost,” says Thomas. “Privatization does not work. It has never worked. And it won’t work the next time the government tries it as it plans to do with ServiceOntario locations.” 

Roxanne Barnes, elected chair of Ontario’s 40,000 direct government employees, says the Ministry of Health spent about $93 million a year to deliver air ambulance services. It paid 20 per cent more during ORNGE’s first year. Costs continued to go up and service declined, the auditor general’s report shows.

“In the four years that government funding went up by more than 30 per cent, the number of patients ORNGE transported went down 7 per cent,” says Barnes.

Thomas says it’s always bad business to take public services out of the hands of public providers.

“With public services delivered by professional public sector workers, we get more service and better quality for lower cost. What reasonable person can argue with that?”

More information:

Roxanne Barnes – 416-809-2791
Don Ford, OPSEU Communications – 416-448-7442