An April Canadian Press article drew public attention to the Ontario government’s closing of the Smart Systems for Health Agency last fall, noting that the opposition is accusing them of wasting $647M on a failed project.
The five-year-old agency was replaced with e-Health Ontario whose mandate is exactly the same – to create a system that would allow people’s medical records to be shared electronically among health professionals. Further Opposition taunts say that the Liberals purposely closed the old agency on the same day that government released its first report on outbreaks of C. difficile in Ontario hospitals. This was adamantly denied by the Liberals who said several days elapsed between the two events.
The article went on to quote Opposition critic Elizabeth Witmer who said that the government had allowed the agency to move forward with no accountability, expending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars with nothing of value to show for it. She said there would be no way the Liberals would ever be in a position to account for the spending.
The article also quoted Health Minister David Caplan’s rebuttal in which he claimed that the old agency had, in fact, set up a secure computer network linking 7,000 sites of various public health agencies and family health teams across Ontario. He thought they had achieved an incredible first step, while admitting that the province has fallen behind other jurisdictions in creating electronic health records. Apparently, Mr Caplan believes the newly set up e-Health Ontario with its new board and senior management will do a better job against more aggressive timelines. Since the timeline for implementing the electronic health records system has now been delayed by three years to 2015, the Opposition was naturally sceptical about the aggressive timeline reference!
The Tories and the New Democrats are calling for the province’s auditor general to investigate the now defunct Smart Systems for Health Agency. Stay tuned for further developments.