It's time to open hospital spending to public scrutiny: OPSEU

TORONTO, Oct. 6 /CNW/ - Revelations today that salaries paid to some of Ontario's most senior health officials are channeled through non-accountable hospital networks demonstrates the urgent need to open up these tax-payer funded institutions to public scrutiny, says the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

"It's scandalous that at a time when the health care system is being squeezed for every last dime, we now learn that the Ministry of Health is deflecting public disclosure by spending millions of dollars in executive salaries and benefits through the backdoor of publicly-supported hospitals," said Warren (Smokey) Thomas.

"This says to me it's time for real public scrutiny, including an expanded role for the Ontario auditor and the opening of hospitals to the Freedom of Information Commissioner and the Ombudsman.

"This kind of secrecy with the taxpayers' dollar is unacceptable and it makes you wonder what else they're hiding," added Thomas.

OPSEU is also asking the government to revive legislation that would open up the hospital board and committee meetings to the public. Bill 142 originally contained such requirements, but was abandoned in the last session of parliament.

Thomas made the remarks following media reports that the deputy health minister Ron Sapsford earned more than $500,000 in salary and benefits in 2008 from the Hamilton Health Sciences Centre - not from the Ministry over which he implements policy. Other senior health officials cited in the reports earned incomes and benefits of about $300,000 or more from University Health Network in Toronto as a means of dodging disclosure through the Ministry.

"Right now, the transparency threshold for Ontario hospitals is about as clear as mud. For too long our hospitals have been exempt from a thorough review of their operations. Only by giving the Auditor, the Ombudsman and the FoI commissioner a wide berth to review, report and recommend changes, these hospitals will continue to operate in the shadows, well away from public oversight."

SOURCE OPSEU

For further information: For further information: Greg Hamara, OPSEU Communications, (647) 238-9933 cell


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