Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Government Mum on Reports That It's Probing Deaths Involving ORNGE: McGuinty Promises to Get to Bottom of ORNGE

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Government Mum on Reports That It's Probing Deaths Involving ORNGE: McGuinty Promises to Get to Bottom of ORNGE

Article excerpt

TORONTO - Premier Dalton McGuinty is pleading for patience while his government investigates troubling reports that continue to swirl around ORNGE, including three deaths involving Ontario's air ambulance service.

He wouldn't confirm reports that his government is probing several deaths, but said some "real concerns" have been raised about the agency's operational matters and its use of taxpayer dollars.

"We'll wait and get the facts before us and make the appropriate decisions," he said Thursday.

Health Minister Deb Matthews was also tightlipped about how many deaths her ministry is currently probing, but said it's required to look into every incident that comes to its attention about air and land ambulances. Between 2007 and 2011, the ministry says it conducted an average of 27 investigations involving air ambulance services per year.

ORNGE said late Thursday afternoon that the ministry's Emergency Health Services Branch is investigating 13 incidents related to air ambulance transports.

The ministry also told the agency that in three of these cases, the regional coroner will be provided with a copy of the report, ORNGE said. But it can't provide any other details.

"The Ontario Coroner has not contacted ORNGE directly for information with respect to any transports," chief operating officer Tom Lepine said in a statement.

"We have been advised that the coroner is not conducting any specific investigation into ORNGE or transports involving ORNGE."

Matthews cleaned house at the agency last week after months of controversy surrounding its questionable business practices, posh headquarters and high executive salaries.

She replaced CEO Chris Mazza -- who was paid $1.4 million a year -- and the entire board of directors.

The government hasn't said how much severance it will have to pay Mazza, who went on indefinite medical leave days after his salary was made public. …

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