Health bigwigs paid too much: MPP

Highly paid local bureaucrats are sucking up too much in provincial health-care dollars, an Ottawa MPP says.

Each of the 14 health networks across Ontario spent more than $1 million on executive salaries, according to Lisa MacLeod, Conservative MPP for Nepean-Carleton.

The number of executives in the Ottawa-area Champlain Local Health Integration Network earning more than $100,000 annually has quadrupled from two to eight in five years, MacLeod said.

Their combined paycheques: More than $1.2 million in 2010 — a significant increase from $352,000 in 2006.

That money, she says, would be better spent on front-line care.

“It could be going to the Early Years Centre here … to diabetes prevention … it could be going to the Queensway Carleton Hospital,” said MacLeod at a press conference Wednesday.

But renowned cardiac surgeon Dr. Wilbert J. Keon — founder of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute— supports the not-for-profit LHIN.

Keon calls LHINs a “giant step forward,” saying he believes in having local control of health care services.

“I’m the voluntary chair of the board. If I believed it was government waste, I wouldn’t have done that,” said Keon.

In 2006 the LHIN wasn’t fully operational so comparing two paycheques to eight isn’t relevant, Keon said.

“Certainly the salaries at the LHIN are really not excessive,” he said.

“It spends 99.7% of its expenditure directly on service at the hospitals, long-term care, home care.”

The cost of operating the LHIN is $5.2 million, Keon said.

“Compared to other health institutions, it’s not spending a high ratio of money on administration.”

And the role of the LHIN and Community Care Access Centre, Keon said, is to co-ordinate services and connect the dots.

“Let’s be very clear — there was something before the LHINs,” said Bob Chiarelli, Liberal MPP for Ottawa West-Nepean, referring to the health ministry’s regional offices and district health councils.

“We eliminated $48 million a year in expenses, we eliminated those two organizations and replaced them with the LHINs,” Chiarelli said, adding another $25 million a year was saved by aligning the Community Care Access Centres to the LHIN boundaries.

MacLeod, however, maintains Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty’s eHealth-style waste is out of control.

“We would scrap his $14-million LHIN clubs,” she said.

But Chiarelli said MacLeod’s claims are unfounded.

“She is being extremely creative in her history and her facts,” he said. “Let’s get on the platform and I’ll debate you until the cows come home.”

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