SkyscraperCity Forum banner

$2,700-a-day consultant billed you $1.65 for tea

953 Views 7 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  TRZ
$2,700-a-day consultant billed you $1.65 for tea

Jun 02, 2009 04:30 AM
Tanya Talaga

An eHealth Ontario consultant billed taxpayers for tea from Tim Hortons and a dessert square at the Edmonton International Airport while earning $2,700 a day at the embattled agency, documents show.

Donna Strating, a senior vice-president of eHealth Ontario, billed $1.65 for a tea from Tim Hortons on Dec. 16, 2008, according to documents obtained by the Progressive Conservative party under a freedom of information request.

Nine days earlier, a bill was submitted for $3.19 for a dessert square at Second Cup at the Edmonton International Airport, the papers show.

The Star also learned yesterday that the eHealth agency, which has been under intense scrutiny over high-priced consultants and executive perks, spent $27,000 to sponsor an out-of-province conference, including an evening reception Sunday.

Yesterday, Health Minister David Caplan announced an immediate third-party review will be conducted on the agency's internal financial controls and management practices. PricewaterhouseCoopers will conduct the review.

Interim Progressive Conservative Leader Bob Runciman described eHealth as a "rogue agency out of control" in the Legislature yesterday. "You don't need a third-party review to know that something smells here and heads should roll."

Runciman also questioned Caplan about the out-of-town conference, although Caplan could not confirm specific details.

The public body paid $27,000 to be a "gold sponsor" and the exclusive host of a reception in Quebec City at an electronic health records conference, according to Deanna Allen, eHealth's senior vice-president, stakeholder relations and communications. "We sponsored the welcome reception," Allen, a full-time employee, told the Star. The agency sent 25 employees to the Quebec conference, eHealth 2009 Leadership in Action, which started Sunday and ends tomorrow.

It costs between $940 and $1,400 per person to attend the four-day event, according to the conference website. Delegates to the conference get special convention rates at five Quebec City hotels, ranging from $155 to $279 a night. The price of the gold sponsorship included the hosting of the stand-up welcome reception, four complimentary conference registrations, two exhibit spaces for this year and priority space for next year.

"It is a good opportunity to meet people and network, find out what is going on in other jurisdictions," Allen said. "It is the cost of doing business."

New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath said perhaps Caplan doesn't understand the seriousness of the fiasco. "The McGuinty government is allowing emergency-room closures in communities like Fort Erie; it's presiding over a growing health crisis in the 905 – all of this as hundreds of millions of dollars go down the drain at eHealth Ontario and its earlier incarnation," she said.

In a letter to Dr. Alan Hudson, chair of eHealth Ontario, dated yesterday, Caplan said as a taxpayer, he is "troubled by inadequate reassurances" following reports about the agency's spending habits. Caplan met with Hudson on Saturday and the minister directed the board to undertake a third-party review.

"Taxpayer dollars must be respected," Caplan told reporters.

Caplan continued to defend eHealth CEO Sarah Kramer, who was under fire last week after it was disclosed she was given a bonus of $114,000 after five months on the job, and that eHealth awarded nearly $5 million in contracts without tender in the agency's first four months. "I think it is fair to say that Sarah and the leadership at the organization, in a few short months, (have yielded) very good results," Caplan said.

More details emerged yesterday about the high costs of consultancy fees at eHealth, an agency created last year to build an electronic provincial health system after its previous incarnation, Smart Systems for Health Agency, was dissolved. Smart Systems was highly criticized for spending $647 million in public funds and producing little results.

Besides the $2,750 a day already being billed by one consultant, Allaudin Merali, to be a senior vice-president of corporate services, the agency also pays $2,700 a day to Strating, senior vice-president of program development and delivery, according to documents obtained by the Ontario Tories through freedom of information.

None of the consultants could be reached for comment last night.

With files from Robert Benzie
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
thats what happens - i know someone who worked for some government agency and she was always getting expensed for stuff
At least they didn't bill us for cleaning out the moat. :cheers:
At least those 25-cent gumball machines don't dispense receipts, then we'd really be getting ripped-off.
She has been ripping us off since day one but oh, it is the tea that really makes it wrong! :|
She has been ripping us off since day one but oh, it is the tea that really makes it wrong! :|
Imagine the reaction for billing a gumball.
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.