Harris: Liberal Cover-up of Serious Problems at ORNGE Revealed

May 31, 2012

KITCHENER – Today, the PC Caucus released a leaked, top-secret Liberal Cabinet document proving the Minister of Health misled people in Kitchener-Waterloo by repeatedly insisting she knew nothing about problems at ORNGE including the delayed response to a fatal helicopter crash in Waterloo Region last year.

The confidential Cabinet document dated May 23, 2012 outlines a series of incidents concerning air ambulance and related services – many of them very serious – that were previously reported to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

“This leak proves the Liberal government has known for some time about the problems at ORNGE that have led to massive delays in air ambulance response times,” said Harris. “For whatever reason, senior members of this government have chosen to hide critical information and have failed to act, thereby putting the lives of local patients at risk.”

One of the incidents outlined in the leaked document was the fatal crash at Waterloo Region International Airport on November 28, 2011. The details show that the Emergency Health Services Branch was prompted by media articles to launch an investigation on December 28th.

The investigation concluded that ORNGE’s launch policy caused the delay in the air ambulance’s response to the fatal crash in Waterloo Region.

“This incident should have been a wake-up call for the McGuinty government – instead it’s been business as usual,” Harris said. “Ontarians expect the government to act quickly on issues of health and public safety, yet ORNGE failed to act for nearly 2 months after receiving the report and the government sat on their hands and allowed these incidents to continue.”

We have also learned that the new CEO of ORNGE is seeking to change regulations to reduce the level of patient care on Ontario’s air ambulances by having only one paramedic, instead of two.

“When paramedics are unavailable or not alerted promptly people’s lives are put at risk,” said Harris. “It’s clear by the number of calls that continue to be missed or cannot be responded to because of understaffing, that the problems at ORNGE are continuing to put people’s lives at risk.”