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Ontario Tories would scrap eHealth, but still develop electronic medical records

Opposition leader Tim Hudak is seen at Queen's Park in Toronto, Ontario Thursday, December 13, 2012.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

The Progressive Conservatives want to phase out eHealth Ontario but still keep developing electronic health records.

PC Leader Tim Hudak says eHealth "in its current form has been a disaster," spending $2-billion "with nothing to show for it."

Mr. Hudak says despite all that spending and a huge bureaucracy, Ontarians still don't have electronic health records.

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He says the government "must stop throwing good money after bad," and give doctors, pharmacists and hospitals control of the project to find a new way to develop electronic health records.

Mr. Hudak also wants the government to use off-the-shelf and open-source software instead of "reinventing the wheel" as we develop electronic records.

Incoming premier Kathleen Wynne said electronic health records were extremely important, and suggested she wouldn't want to close down eHealth.

"If we are going to continue to make decisions based on evidence, if we are going to provide better service to the people of Ontario in health care, we have got to have electronic connectivity," said MS. Wynne. "We have got to have an increase in the electronic records."

The New Democrats pointed out that it was the Conservatives who set up an agency called Smart Systems to create electronic health records – which the Liberals later scrapped and renamed eHealth.

"Now they're saying if they come back into power they would scrap eHealth and develop what, Smart Systems Two?" wondered NDP health critic France Gelinas.

The Tories also want an audit to see how the funds were spent after the auditor general found in 2009 that the agency had spent $1-billion with little to show for it.

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"The eHealth mess shows us that the Liberals' approach – pouring a vat of borrowed money on every health-care challenge – is not delivering results," said Mr. Hudak.

EHealth Ontario was caught up in a $1-billion scandal over untendered contracts and expense account abuses by well-paid consultants in 2009 which led to the resignation of then-health minister David Caplan.

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