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Ontario health minister resigns over eHealth contract scandal

Ontario Health Minister David Caplan quit on Tuesday as the province's auditor general prepared to make public the results of his office's investigation into "favouritism" and "questionable procurement practices" at the eHealth Ontario agency in the form of contracts doled out without proper competitive bidding.

Deb Matthews (below right), who had been Children and Youth Services Minister and holds a PhD in social demography, has been named to replace Mr Caplan.

Mr Caplan's fall from grace has initiated some grumbling from within the Liberal Party ranks. "None of this happened on his tenure – it's all under George," an anonymous Liberal told the Toronto Star, referring to former health minister George Smitherman, who held the job from 2003 until 2008. "But with the report coming out, David takes the fall and is a good soldier."

Rumours have circulated already that Mr Smitherman was spared from accepting blame for the eHealth mess because he's a likely candidate (and likely winner) in the upcoming election for the Toronto mayoralty. And, as the rumours go, Premier Dalton McGuinty would benefit greatly from having an ally in Toronto City Hall.

But the auditor general's new report shows that theory of Mr Caplan's innocence and Mr Smitherman's guilt to be false. The vast majority of contracts awarded without competitive bidding were awarded by eHealth CEO Sarah Kramer, who ran the agency from November 2008, four months after Mr Caplan began as health minister, until she was booted from the job this past summer. The report also blames the health ministry for failing to provide proper oversight and direction in 2008 and 2009.

When I spoke to Mr Caplan in May about his work as minister of health, his ambition was clear. "I commented on June the 20th [in 2008], or around then when we had the swearing in, that my goal was to be the second best minister of health the province has ever had. I was not referring to Minister Smitherman, although he is a good friend and I have great admiration. My mother, 20 years ago, was a minister of health for the province of Ontario and, in my opinion, the very best one."

Although he surely wasn't the only one at fault for the eHealth scandal, Mr Caplan will now nevertheless have to resign himself to the idea that history won't see him quite as he had hoped.

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  1. Purley Quirt (aka Sharon )8 October, 2009 9:41 AM

    RE:David Caplan

    Sam, you say:

    "Mr Caplan will now nevertheless have to resign himself to the idea that history won't see him quite as he had hoped."

    I guess that depends on which history texts that you read.

    One of the most astute actions of David Caplan was to hunker down and do his job.
    He was not everpresent in the media or " politicking" his way through each task.

    To " quit" playing in a game that is like " Monopoly on smack" is a sign of astute management.

    Sometimes you have to miss landing on "Go" ....

    Bravo, David.... I think you ARE the second best health minister we ever had....
    [ I won't tell you who came first :) ]

    May you be like the brave Admiral Barton who said:

    "Fight on, my men," says Sir Andrew Barton,
    "I am hurt, but I am not slain;
    I'll lay me down and bleed a while,
    And then I'll rise and fight again. "

    To the Scots...Barton was the hero
    To the English he was a thief

    Therefore..... in the future, David ... give your patriotism to the right ruler. and do not forget that the words most often quoted from this ballad......are the words of the one who was defeated..... in battle.

    Admiral Barton lives on" inside" the words of his own enemies...... .........hmmmm.... ( now there's a Trojan Horse to position)

    check it out here:

    On a final note:

    To Quit can sometimes mean "to stand" for something... while those around you "fall" for anything.

    To "Quit" the political monopoly game........ enables you to " Start" living the game of Life. Go for it!

    Kudos to you for buffeting the cascading waves of Chaos Theory !

  2. Purley Quirt (aka Sharon )8 October, 2009 9:46 AM

    P.S. I was right, David....... I think you are like Truman ( as in "the movie" )

    May you also enjoy your freedom :)

  3. Anonymous21 October, 2009 1:33 PM

    Sometimes when you're not out there it means you're not doing anything.

    Farewell Minister of Health Care Privatization.

  4. sharon29 October, 2009 11:51 PM

    Where have you been?.... the private sector IS the provider in Canada... the public sector pays for it's provision.

    It's unique success is in regulatory control and insistence on having $ follow the patient........ not the service.... wherever the patient goes..

    It is now challenging the patient to select a cost contained position for the $ "value" ( key word) ultimately to flow directly to and from the patient.
    This prevents fungibility.