06/02/2014 08:22 EDT | Updated 08/02/2014 05:59 EDT

Ontario Election 2014: PCs Release Confidential Report Into Ornge Air Ambulances


TORONTO - The Progressive Conservatives accuse Premier Kathleen Wynne of calling the June 12 election to bury a highly critical report into Ontario's troubled Ornge air ambulance service.

Former Tory MPP Frank Klees, who led the Opposition charge on allegations of corruption and mismanagement at Ornge, has released the confidential report of a legislative committee that was shelved by the election call.

Klees says he's convinced Wynne dissolved the legislature on Friday, May 2 — even though elections can't officially start until a Wednesday — because the Ornge report was to be released Monday, May 5.

He says the report expresses concerns about decisions made at the most senior levels in the Ministry of Health, including "the failure of the minister to respond to repeated warnings about Ornge mismanagement and health and safety risks."

Klees says he was struggling with the fact that the unanimous committee report wasn't made public, and decided to release it after Ornge was hit with 17 labour code charges Friday stemming from a 2013 crash in Moosonee that claimed four lives.

The veteran Tory, who is not seeking re-election, says he felt he owed it to the pilots and front line staff at Ornge to make the 150-page report public.

"The report exposes Ornge board members for their failure to exercise their fiduciary responsibilities and calls for the government to pursue them to recover the millions of dollars wasted," said Klees.

"And the report calls on the government to pursue (former Ornge CEO) Chris Mazza and executives and professionals to recover funds that were siphoned into their pockets through their greed."

Mazza collected $9.3 million over six years at Ornge as he created a complex web of for-profit and not-for-profit entities related to the air ambulance service.

Ontario Provincial Police are currently conducting a criminal probe into financial irregularities at Ornge, which receives about $150 million from the province.

Executives at Ornge and its for-profit companies received $52.8 million between 2007 and 2011. Almost $2 million was paid to board directors, including former chairman Rainer Beltzner, whose compensation topped $232,757 in 2011.

Ontario's auditor general criticized the Liberals for failing to oversee Ornge after giving it $730 million over five years and allowing it to borrow another $300 million.

The Liberals insisted Ornge went rogue with its web of for-profit companies and questionable business deals, as well as exorbitant salaries and lavish expenses.

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