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Groups seek investigation into corporate donations to Tories

(Toronto) The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE) and the Ontario Health Coalition say that corporate donations to health minister Tony Clement and to Premier Eves raise serious ethical questions. Recent news stories have revealed that several companies vying to build and operate new private hospitals in Ontario have made large financial contributions to the Tories. The groups say that the province’s Integrity Commissioner should investigate.

“Everything about this smells bad,” says Michael Hurley, president of OCHU. “We have said all along that these private hospital projects in Brampton and Ottawa are ill-advised. We are talking about spending precious public health care dollars here. The bidding processes are shrouded in secrecy, a former director with the federal Auditor General suggested in December that they are likely to cost the taxpayer more than public hospitals would, and now we’ve learned that finalists for the Ottawa bid are all big donors to the Tories. I think we have plenty of evidence that Tony Clement cannot be trusted to manage the public health care system.”

OCHU/CUPE has commissioned a legal opinion on the propriety of the donations. The union’s legal counsel, Steven Shrybman of Sack Goldblatt Mitchell, says that there is a reasonable basis for concern that the health minister or the Premier may have improperly furthered the private interests of these companies that have donated to his campaign, or furthered their own private interests arising from these donations.

“The P3 hospital projects in Ottawa and Brampton represent a serious shift in public policy one that Tony Clement has been leading. He cannot legitimately claim that the donations are irrelevant or that his role is immaterial,” says Hurley. “The fact that he has received large sums of money from groups who are seeking to win these contracts does raise very serious questions of ethics and propriety, and we think that the Integrity Commissioner should be asked to investigate.”

Natalie Mehra of the Ontario Health Coalition is also criticizing the Tories for plowing ahead with the P3 hospitals when there are so many questions about them. “We have seen absolutely no evidence that these planned, for-profit hospitals will be cheaper or will provide better medical care in fact, all available evidence suggests exactly the opposite,” says Mehra. “Now that there are troubling ethical questions about the bid finalists and their relationship to the Tories, we are urging the government to do the right thing and kill these deals.”

The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE represents 21,000 frontline health care workers in Ontario. The Ontario Health Coalition is an umbrella group representing more than 300 member organizations across the province.


For more information:
Michael Hurley, President, OCHU,
416-884-0770 (cell)
Natalie Mehra, Coordinator, Ontario Health Coalition,
416-230-6402 (cell)
Andrea Addario, CUPE Communications,
416-738-4329 (cell)