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Opposition demand answers on eHealth contract

EHealth’s awarding of a $236-million contract at the height of aspending scandal at the provincial agency is “ominous” given the timingand the fact the Ontario government kept the deal quiet, the oppositioncharged yesterday.

EHealth’s awarding of a $236-million contract at the height of a spending scandal at the provincial agency is “ominous” given the timing and the fact the Ontario government kept the deal quiet, the opposition charged yesterday.

The contract only became public after consulting firm Nightingale announced it would be among several companies benefiting from the three-year deal to link another 5,700 Ontario doctors to electronic health records for their patients.

While the government insisted yesterday that the announcement was good news, the New Democrats and Progressive Conservatives said it raised a lot of questions about why the Liberal government failed to publicize the deal.

“None of us are able to go up the chain of command to find who approved this,” said NDP health critic France Gelinas.

“No transparency, no accountability. It’s the same old eHealth all over again.”

People are worried about who benefited from the latest eHealth deal after the province’s auditor general issued a special report saying Ontario got little value for the $1 billion it has spent so far on electronic health records, said Opposition Leader Tim Hudak.

“It’s very ominous that at the height of the controversy around the billion-dollar boondoggle at eHealth, the government slipped another $236 million out the door,” said Hudak.

“Taxpayers are justifiably nervous about whether that money went to Liberal friendly consultants or to health care.”

In his special report on eHealth, Auditor General Jim McCarter found the agency awarded millions of dollars in untendered contracts.

The $236 million went to companies that had been pre-approved to take on contracts for eHealth and that met the qualifications of the OntarioMD program to sell their products to doctors.

Premier Dalton McGuinty said the government wanted to wait until the auditor issued his report on eHealth before announcing that the agency had awarded the contract.

 
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