Provincial parliament committee hearings into Ontario’s air ambulance service, Ornge, will continue into the summer, thanks to a last-minute deal struck among Canada’s three major political parties. Progressive Conservatives had accused Ontario’s Liberal-led government of trying to stymie the ongoing probe into Ornge by the Select Committee on Public Accounts and threatened to retaliate by blocking Ornge’s $150 million annual government funding.
Meanwhile, Ontario government ombudsman Andre Marin compared Ornge to a fish “rotting from the head down” and pressed for broader powers to investigate it. At a press conference last week, a clearly frustrated Marin accused the government of shielding Ornge from further scrutiny.
“Ontarians deserve stronger oversight and greater transparency,” he said. The Ministry of Health dismissed senior Ornge executives and its board earlier this year following allegations of financial misdealings, poor performance and patient deaths. Ornge operates an aeromedical fleet of 12 AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters and 10 Pilatus PC-12 turboprop singles. Last year, its ground and air ambulances transported 19,000 patients.