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Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2009 12:58 pm Post subject: eHealth scandal claims deputy health minister
eHealth scandal claims deputy health minister
Grilled by legislature, Ron Sapsford suddenly quits his post
By Tanya Talaga
Health Reporter Published 17 minutes agoEmailPrintRepublishAdd to Favourites Report an errorShare Share ArticlePhotos (1)
Ron Sapsford has stepped down as Ontario's deputy minister of health.
RENE JOHNSTON/TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO
Ontario deputy health minister Ron Sapsford, a key player at the heart of the province's $1-billion electronic health record scandal, has resigned.
The resignation comes after an imbroglio that has rocked the Liberal government for months and caused the resignation of health minister David Caplan. Political critics have also called for Sapsford's resignation because of his role as overseer of the $42-billion Ontario health file.
In a memo to staff released this morning, Sapsford, a career bureaucrat and grandfather, said he would be leaving Jan. 3.
Last month, Ontario Auditor General Jim McCarter released a damning report revealing that the province's push to create electronic health records had been rife with untendered contracts and resulted in little to show for the hundreds of millions spent.
However, while Premier Dalton McGuinty clamped down on the use of untendered contracts and high consultants' expenses in the wake of the spending scandal, salaries for top bureaucrats such as Sapsford's were being funnelled through hospital budgets in order to skirt government pay guidelines.
The Star discovered Sapsford earned a salary of $433,611.55 plus $64,781.35 in taxable benefits through the Hamilton Health Sciences Centre.
Prior to his departure, people were singing his praises. The job of deputy health minister is probably one of the toughest in the country, said Liberal MPP George Smitherman (Toronto Centre), a former health minister.
"It takes a certain kind of person, with a lot of fortitude, to even have the gusto to say that is public service in a form I am willing to consider," Smitherman said.
"In the health care sector, there are lots of big roles where one has a lot of opportunity to expand their horizons and do many imaginative things outside of the crushing weight of responsibility with the place because it is so damn big."
Ontario's health sector employs nearly 400,000 people.
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