Two more Pan American Games executives have been axed and a former political staffer added to the ranks in a major shakeup of the committee organizing the 2015 Toronto games.
Elaine Roper and Louise Lutgens, the senior vice-presidents of human resources and community affairs at TO 2015, respectively, were shown the door. Meanwhile, Neala Barton will join the organization as the executive in charge of public affairs. Once communications director to former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty, Ms. Barton most recently worked in the office of outgoing Alberta Premier Alison Redford.
The ousting of Ms. Roper and Ms. Lutgens brings to three the number of high-ranking staff turfed since former Liberal premier David Peterson took over as PanAm's board chair in September. Late last year, the organization fired CEO Ian Troop and replaced him with seasoned civil servant Saad Rafi.
Mr. Peterson said Mr. Rafi made the decision to dismiss Ms. Roper and Ms. Lutgens as part of a re-organization.
"They were deemed to be surplus to the operations...it's an efficiency measure, it's a streamlining measure," he said in an interview Friday. "There are just some organizational things – who reports to who, who's doing what and who's responsible for this, that and the other thing."
Ms. Roper and Ms. Lutgens' severance packages are still being worked out by lawyers, Mr. Rafi said, but will be made public once they are finalized. According to the provincial Sunshine List, Ms. Roper pulled in a $292,774.92 salary in 2012, plus $17,565.24 in taxable benefits. Ms. Lutgens made $232,845.80 and $14,557.42.
Mr. Rafi said he hired Ms. Barton to pump up the organization's public image.
"At this juncture, it's really important for us to put a strong community outreach foot forward – community in the sense of media, strategic communications and also our internal communications," told The Globe and Mail.
He did not provide her exact salary, but said it would be similar to that paid to Peter Donolo, the committee's former senior vice-president public affairs, who resigned last year. Mr. Donolo made $183,846.09 in 2012.
Government sources have said Mr. Peterson clashed with Mr. Troop. When Mr. Peterson took over, the sources said, he began to question many decisions the organization had made, particularly related to the cultivation of its public image.
Mr. Peterson has repeatedly denied this version of events. Rather, he has maintained, the board of directors decided to turf Mr. Troop because it felt the organization needed a new CEO who could better run the operational phase of the Games.
Mr. Troop's severance, negotiated earlier this year, cost more than half a million dollars.
Mr. Rafi on Friday denied the most recent changes had anything to do with Mr. Troop's ouster.
"These are decisions that I've had to take. They were not easy. These were not performance deicisons, they're very tough decisions to make," he said.