NEWS

Troubled ORNGE air ambulance service gets new board, slashes jobs

01/25/2012 04:37 EST | Updated 03/25/2012 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - Ontario's troubled air ambulance service got a new board of directors Wednesday after slashing 18 jobs in an effort to reduce costs.

Ian Delaney, chairman of Sherritt International Corp., was appointed as chairman of the new ORNGE board on the recommendation of the Liberal government.

Other new members include Charles Harnick of Counsel Public Affairs, Patricia Lang, former president of Confederation College, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre CEO and president Barry McLellan and Maneesh Mehta of the Central Local Health Integration Unit.

Patrice Merrin of CML HealthCare and Patricia Volker of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario have also been appointed to the board.

"I have every confidence that the newly appointed members will provide the right leadership for the organization," Health Minister Deb Matthews said in a statement.

The announcement came a day after ORNGE axed 18 middle managers and shut down its charity organization, J-Smarts, which educates children about cottage country safety.

"In an effort to contain costs and to re-direct our focus, including our resources, on the front-line delivery of patient care, ORNGE’s corporate office has been restructured including the immediate termination of eighteen office staff positions from various back-office departments," interim president and CEO Ron McKerlie said Tuesday in a statement.

"Due to privacy issues, we are unable to comment any further on the specifics of these human resource matters."

Matthews cleaned house at the agency earlier this month after months of controversy surrounding its questionable business practices, posh headquarters and high executive salaries.

She replaced CEO Chris Mazza — who was paid $1.4 million a year — and the entire board of directors.

The sweeping changes came after the auditor general and the Ministry of Finance both sent audit teams into ORNGE, which receives about $140 million a year from the province to operate a non-profit air medical rescue and transport service.

The ministry's Emergency Health Services Branch is also investigating 13 incidents related to air ambulance transports — three of which involved deaths.

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