ORNGE Boondoggle Audit Report Highlights

Last week the Ontario Auditor General released the report on ORNGE, the air ambulance agency that is deservedly under scrutiny. Here are some highlights to make you see red.

We noted in this regard that the funding Ornge received for air ambulance services increased by more than 20% between the 2006/07 fiscal year (Ornge’s first full year of operations) and the 2010/11 fiscal year. However, over the same period, the total number of patients transported by air decreased by 6%.

Nice eh? How about this one?

Ornge received $65 million to perform inter-facility land ambulance transfers, projected to number 20,000 annually. However, Ornge is currently providing only about 15% of the projected transfers.

Do the math on that one. To transport a patient, over land not air, was estimated to cost $3250 per transport. So if you were to be driven by Ornge from North York General to Sick Children’s Hospital, we were GOING to pay $3250. But instead Ornge took $65Million and only transported 3000 people. The math there is over $21500 per transport. Seriously???

Ornge management, with approval of its board, created a network of for-profit and not-for-profit subsidiaries and other companies with which Ornge has entered into complex financial arrangements to deliver air ambulance services. In fact, much of Ornge’s operation is being delivered by these other entities, which bill Ornge for those services.

And I guarantee each tier took it’s chunk of our flesh in dollars. How about the sweet deal below for some company. I would LOVE to be the landlord for ORNGE.

The building that houses Ornge’s corporate head office was purchased for $15 million using funding borrowed through a bond issue. Ornge then entered into a complex arrangement with some of the other entities it created to sell the building and lease it back to itself. An independent real-estate appraiser
we engaged estimated that, under its lease with a related Ornge company, Ornge’s rent payments are 40% higher than the fair-market rent. Over the first five years of the 25-year lease, this amounts to Ornge paying $2 million more than it would pay if the building’s cost per square foot were comparable to that of similar buildings in the area.

Can we say Chaching?? I am sure the landlord for ORNGE was saying it.

After buying 12 new helicopters for US$148 million, Ornge arranged to install seating for 12 people in two of them. As a result, these helicopters could not be used to transport patients. Ornge told us it was considering selling these two helicopters.

Sure…AFTER they got caught.

The report goes on and on. And after they take a big chunk of our tax dollars and blow it left right and centre, the top employees refuse to disclose their salaries on the Ontario government sunshine list of people who make more than $100K.

Ontario Tax Payers….Officially Screwed….again. Thank you Dalton McGuinty, George Smitherman and Deb Matthews.