TORONTO, Oct. 7 /CNW/ - Today, the Government of Ontario released Cancer Care Ontario's audit report. While I recognize that there was a large volume of detailed information released, Ontarians deserve to have a clear understanding of the facts - both positive and negative. I would like to take this opportunity to correct a number of factual inaccuracies in the reporting of this story.
First, the only documents related to Cancer Care Ontario released today by the provincial government were the audit report and covering memo. Not at any point today were thousands of expenses related to CCO released.
Second, it has been reported that a consulting firm received a single source contract worth $18.7 million over a three-year period for the design and development of the Wait Times Information System (WTIS). In fact, the original Request-for-Proposal (RFP) was publicly tendered. As the scope and magnitude of the work became clearer, follow-on agreements were used. Let me be clear, where there were follow-on agreements, it is our view that we have the authority to allow for follow-on agreements. This interpretation was confirmed through independent legal counsel.
Yes, the value of the initial contract grew, and, despite not having a multi-year funding commitment or having a full scope of the project from the outset, we built a high quality WTIS to measure wait times for cancer surgeries, cataract and hip and knee surgeries and emergency room wait times for Ontarians. Unequivocally, as a result of our work, patients across Ontario are waiting less time to access key procedures.
Third, Cancer Care Ontario has never paid executives hundreds of thousands of dollars each to leave the agency this year or ever.
Without a doubt there were gaps in our internal billing and invoicing systems. Controls are now in place to ensure expenses will not be reimbursed without pre-approval or a receipt.
Further, recognizing that the amount of the expenses is not irrelevant, we conducted our own review of all the consultant expense claims and have recovered all expenses that were found to be ineligible for reimbursement. In addition, CCO has revised its travel and business expense policy for consultants to align with new Management Board directives and all the new rules have been communicated to external vendors.
While I accept that paying for social events went against our own policy, I think it is important in the future to find appropriate ways to recognize the hard work of our staff and show our appreciation.
Early this morning I released a statement accepting the recommendations in the audit report and management's plan for improvement. I continue to take full responsibility for any and all gaps and deficiencies identified in the report.
We have not shied away from public or government scrutiny. Over the past several months, I have spoken to various media outlets about the challenges faced by government agencies.
We have and we continue to make changes to our procurement process and internal controls.
We welcome any and all inquiries related to the audit. In the spirit of transparency, we have invited the auditors back in a year to report on our progress. I treat this issue seriously and this is part of our accountability to the government, patients and the public.
There is room for operational improvement but the day-to-day work of Cancer Care Ontario has not and will not stop. Patients are always our first priority.
SOURCE Cancer Care Ontario
For further information: For further information: Elizabeth McCarthy, Senior Advisor - Public Affairs, (416) 971-9800 x. 3339, firstname.lastname@example.org