07/24/2012 01:27 EDT | Updated 09/23/2012 05:12 EDT

Ornge air ambulance looks for new president and CEO to replace Chris Mazza

TORONTO - A search is underway for a new president and chief executive officer for Ontario's troubled Ornge air ambulance service, but the post will pay only "a fraction" of what the previous top executive received.

The Ornge board of directors announced Tuesday it had hired executive search firm Spencer Stuart to look for a new CEO to replace Chris Mazza, who quit last December after his $1.4 million salary became public.

The salary range for the new CEO has not been determined, but it won't come anywhere near what Mazza was getting from taxpayers, said Ian Delaney, chair of the Ornge board.

"One of the reasons that you hire outside consultants to do these searches is to help you get comparables and get the right range," Delaney said in an interview.

"I can assure you it's a lot less than the previous range, a small fraction of that number."

Mazza was grilled by members of a legislative committee last week about his role in setting up a web of spin-off companies that the government has since shut down.

After telling the committee he had been in hospital for several months with an undisclosed ailment, Mazza said he regretted that his salary had become a lightning rod for public anger.

The Ontario Provincial Police are also conducting a criminal investigation into financial irregularities at Ornge.

The directors at Ornge, all of whom were replaced in January after Mazza left, hope to complete the search for the new CEO by the fall.