The governing Ontario Liberals confirmed Wednesday that ousted Ornge CEO Chris Mazza collected $9.3-million over six years at the province’s publicly funded air ambulance service.
The figure, which was recently reported, “is accurate,” Health Minister Deb Matthews said Wednesday after testifying at a legislative committee.
That includes salary, bonuses, expenses and other fees, she said. A summary sheet outlining what Mazza collected will be provided to the committee to “make it all clear.”
A legislative committee looking into the Ornge spending scandal had previously heard that Mazza made $1.4-million in a single year, on top of hefty loans totalling $1.2-million.
But the grand total had not been confirmed until Wednesday.
Both opposition parties have been grilling Matthews at the committee about why she didn’t make that figure public before.
She said she provided two million pages of documents last year to the committee that provided plenty of information about Mazza’s compensation.
But the opposition parties said they could only find $5.6-million for Mazza in the documents. They said a government forensic audit report also wasn’t part of the package, even though the committee asked for all documents related to Mazza’s compensation.
The committee got the report this week after making a specific request for the document.
“The ministry sat on this, and it wasn’t until we called for it this past week that we now have access to this,” said Tory Frank Klees.
“Transparency? Accountability? The minister has learned no lessons.”
Matthews said the final July, 2012, audit report, which says Mazza collected $7.6-million, doesn’t paint the whole picture, such as expenses. The information on his compensation has been updated since then, she added.
“It’s expanded from what you see in the audit report,” she said.
“I believe the forensic audit time period is one year less than what’s in the documentation provided to committee.”
Ornge, which receives about $150-million from the province, has been under fire for more than a year over sky-high salaries, financial irregularities and corruption allegations.
Mazza’s salary disappeared from the so-called sunshine list of top paid public sector workers after 2007, when his salary was listed at $285,000.
The committee heard that, over the years, his compensation grew exponentially and he received loans as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars for being a medical director of Ornge.
He also claimed extravagant expenses, including luxurious trips to Brazil, Europe and New York and limo rides for Ornge executives, as well as meals and drinks in posh restaurants.
Ornge is trying to recover some of the money from Mazza, who is countersuing, alleging that he’s owned $1-million in unpaid bonuses.
A spokeswoman at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre said Mazza performed some unpaid work for the hospital recently.
“Dr. Mazza’s initial visit (and only, to date) was exploratory, and essentially that of a volunteer in that he was not paid, did not bill for any of his services and covered his own travel, meals and accommodation,” Tracie Smith said in an e-mail.
Ontario’s Auditor-General has criticized the governing Liberals for failing to oversee Ornge, despite giving it $730-million over five years and allowing it to borrow another $300-million.
The Liberals insist Ornge went rogue with a web of for-profit companies and questionable business deals, as well as exorbitant salaries and lavish expenses.
The all-party committee has heard that the Liberals allowed Ornge to set up its for-profit entities, but didn’t pay attention to what was going on. Those subsidiaries are now bankrupt.
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