Thursday 22 October 1992

Review of special audit on Toronto General Division of the Toronto Hospital


*Chair / Président: Mancini, Remo (Essex South/-Sud L)

*Acting Chair / Président suppléant: Grandmaître, Bernard (Ottawa East/-Est L)

Vice-Chair / Vice-Président: Cordiano, Joseph (Lawrence L)

*Callahan, Robert V. (Brampton South/-Sud L)

Cousens, W. Donald (Markham PC)

*Duignan, Noel (Halton North/-Nord ND)

*Frankford, Robert (Scarborough East/-Est ND)

Haeck, Christel (St Catharines-Brock ND)

*Hayes, Pat (Essex-Kent ND)

*Johnson, Paul R. (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings/Prince Edward-Lennox-Hastings-Sud ND)

*O'Connor, Larry (Durham-York ND)

Sorbara, Gregory S. (York Centre L)

*Tilson, David (Dufferin-Peel PC)

Substitutions / Membres remplaçants:

*Brown, Michael A. (Algoma-Manitoulin L) for Mr Callahan

*Grandmaître, Bernard (Ottawa East/-Est L) for Mr Sorbara

*Owens, Stephen (Scarborough Centre ND) for Ms Haeck

*In attendance / présents

Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes:

Mishchenko, Nick J., director, special assignments branch, Office of the Provincial Auditor

Otterman, Jim F., assistant Provincial Auditor

Clerk / Greffière: Manikel, Tannis

Staff / Personnel: McLellan, Ray, research officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 1006 in room 151.


The Acting Chair (Mr Bernard Grandmaître): I see a quorum, so good morning. We will continue the audit of the Toronto Hospital -- not the Toronto Blue Jays; that was a great game, though -- the discussion of the Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committees Conference and the discussion re the Canadian Comprehensive Auditing Foundation 13th Annual Conference. That's our agenda, but number one on the item is the review of the audit of the Toronto Hospital. Who is first this morning?

Mr Nick J. Mishchenko: I believe we left off last Thursday just getting to the top of page 15, if I'm not mistaken, where we dealt with recent construction and renovation projects at Toronto General division.

The first concern raised was that many, or maybe most, of the renovation projects at the hospital are not openly tendered. We did a fairly extensive review of projects at the hospital and found that construction and renovation projects were properly tendered. The only exceptions were projects of low-dollar value, which often were required to be completed on short notice. In all the cases we had reviewed, the lowest bid was accepted by the general contractor, Begley.

The next issue dealt with the high-isolation unit at the hospital. The concerns revolved around the unit being built at a cost of approximately $11 million and that it will never be used because of design problems resulting from poor planning and developing of the unit. From our review, we found that the total cost of the unit was $2.1 million and that the unit was constructed at the request of the Ministry of Health, which paid for the total cost of construction.

The purpose of the unit was to deal with highly contagious diseases with a high death rate and no known cure. There were concerns on the part of the ministry that there wasn't a facility of this nature available in the province, and with agreement with the hospital they proceeded to construct a unit at the hospital. One of the problems raised as a concern was that the plumbing for the unit was not kept separate from the hospital's plumbing.

We reviewed documentation and reports provided at that time by the architects and various consultants involved and there is evidence that the toilets in the unit were connected to the normal hospital drainage system. However, according to correspondence from the architects, the toilet was intended to be used only by non-risk isolation patients. Where there was an instance of a genuine infectious patient, they would be required to use portable toilets and the waste would be appropriately disposed of. They were not going to use the toilets in the room.

The hospital, then, to eliminate any potential confusion, confirmed that the toilets would be sealed off and would not be available at the time that highly infectious patients were in the facility.

Another concern raised was that control knobs were placed inside the unit which could contaminate people. We found evidence that since all staff entering the unit would be wearing protective suits, there would be no risk of contamination. The suits were primarily like spacesuits and it was to avoid any problems.

I don't know if there are any questions on that.

The Acting Chair: Any questions? Yes, Mr Tilson.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): The allegation was that this section was vacant.

Mr Mishchenko: That's correct, yes, and it hasn't been used.

Mr Tilson: Is that allegation substantiated?

Mr Mishchenko: Yes. The facility has not been used. It is vacant. The equipment is still there for the unit but it hasn't been used.

To give you a little bit more background on it, the explanation we've received is that this unit was constructed back in the early 1980s. There was a concern that treatment facilities were not available for these types of patients. From what we've been able to glean from information provided by the doctor responsible for the unit and from conversations with people at the Ministry of Health, treatment for these types of diseases has changed dramatically during that period of time, and as a result, the need for this type of facility is likely not necessary. It's still there but it hasn't been used.

Mr Tilson: Do they indicate whether it can be used for anything else?

Mr Mishchenko: Since the ministry paid for the equipment, the hospital's not in a position to make any decisions on what to do with the equipment, so in consultation with the ministry, there are some discussions now as to whether the equipment can be used possibly in other government laboratories or things of that nature.

Mr Tilson: Are you telling me this building has been vacant since the 1980s?

Mr Mishchenko: It's not a building.

Mr Tilson: Or wing.

Mr Mishchenko: It's part of a floor.

Mr Tilson: This wing.

Mr Mishchenko: It's part of a wing, yes.

Mr Tilson: Part of a wing, it should be called.

Mr Mishchenko: Yes.

Mr Tilson: Has this wing been vacant since the 1980s?

Mr Mishchenko: Yes.

Mr Larry O'Connor (Durham-York): There's lots like that.

Mr Tilson: I had to leave the committee early last week. I understand the ministry is coming. I think the ministry has a lot to explain to us, because that's rather remarkable, if Mr O'Connor is saying there's a lot like that, that millions are being spent for wings or whatever and the acquisition of equipment that's not being used or has become redundant almost at the time it's purchased. I gather that's what you're suggesting. Are you suggesting that not only is it vacant but the equipment has become redundant within a very short period of time?

Mr Mishchenko: I'm not in a position to give you a complete answer on that. There's no indication that it was redundant at the time it was constructed. What we've heard from the people at the ministry and from the hospital is that we should all be thankful it was never necessary to use this equipment. It was there available to treat certain situations, and I guess they never had a cause or need to use the equipment for that purpose, but it was available. They felt it was like an insurance policy, to have some insurance so that if a problem occurred, they were able to deal with it.

Mr Tilson: I don't think our questions are now being directed towards the Toronto Hospital; I think our questions are more being directed towards the Ministry of Health. It's almost bizarre. If it is the way you've presented it to us, it's rather bizarre. I know you're trying to be kind, but it's come out as being rather bizarre.

Mr Mishchenko: Yes -- not that we're trying to be kind. I think it's hard to put yourself back in a situation back in the late 1970s and try to look at things objectively about when a decision was made, as opposed to in hindsight. It was difficult from our perspective to make a call on that.

Mr Tilson: It appears we can't proceed any further on this topic, Mr Chairman, until the Ministry of Health officials come before us. I'm sorry to ask this, because I wasn't present; the motion was made. Has there been any scheduling for members of the ministry or indeed the Minister of Health to come to this committee?

The Acting Chair: I've been advised that the deputy minister has been invited and also the assistant deputy minister.

Mr Tilson: They will be coming soon.

The Acting Chair: Yes, next week, to our next meeting.

Mr Tilson: Thank you very much for your answers.

The Acting Chair: On the same subject, Mr O'Connor, on the same invitation.

Mr O'Connor: Just for clarification for my colleague across the room, we talked about the downsizing of the hospital last week. It was pointed out to us that it's something the hospital is responsible for. They're responsible for the fiscal situation within their hospital. I asked about empty space and if there was any move by the auditor to consolidate, and there hadn't seemed to be any. Of course, as it's been pointed out, it does go back several ministers; in fact, it's a Tory era. But the fact is that health care has changed quite a bit and there is a lot of space that isn't being utilized properly. That was a question we had asked.

Just on whether someone from the ministry is going to come, it was raised at a meeting I was at with the minister, so they're well aware that we're dealing with this at this point. Some of the concerns I can take back directly to the minister as well and so I appreciate that, and we do have the deputy and ADM coming over next week.

The Acting Chair: I'm sorry; doctor, and then we can get back to you, Mr Tilson.

Mr Robert Frankford (Scarborough East): Can you clarify for me, did you say there is equipment there which belongs to the ministry and not to the hospital?

Mr Mishchenko: Well, now, the ministry paid for the equipment, for the total cost of that whole unit.

Mr Frankford: The ministry pays for everything ultimately, or maybe not, but --

Mr Mishchenko: The project was initiated at the request of the ministry. They provided specific funding for this particular project. The hospital has been looking at whether this facility is still worthwhile keeping and is having discussions with the ministry, from our understanding, to make a decision as to whether they should disband this unit and parcel off the equipment to other locations that might find it useful.

Mr Frankford: Did I hear you correctly that the equipment, you are saying, is the ministry's and not the hospital's?

Mr Mishchenko: I guess the equipment is the hospital's. But they don't feel they should be making a decision on what to do with it without having consultation with the ministry, since the ministry originally requested that this facility be constructed. So it is their equipment; it's part of the hospital, okay, but --

Mr Frankford: Presumably, in general, when the ministry has funded things to hospitals, that belongs to the hospital, not to the --

Mr Mishchenko: Right, yes.

Mr Frankford: So you are really saying it's more the hospital's equipment than the ministry's, but they --

Mr Mishchenko: It's one of these unique situations. I think the hospital found itself in a situation where it felt that yes, it is their equipment; it's on the hospital's property. But because it was installed for specific purposes, before they make a decision to move it out of there, they would want some agreement from the ministry on that.

Mr Frankford: Okay. Another area: Are you aware that there was any involvement or consultation with the district health council in identifying a need for this facility?

Mr Mishchenko: I'm not aware of any and I would imagine there would be various discussions. There were some newspaper articles dealing with the fact that this facility was going to be constructed at the hospital, and there were concerns raised and explanations provided as to why they thought it was necessary to get a facility at that time. That's going back to the late 1970s and early 1980s, but we didn't see anything like a formal document or correspondence between parties.

Mr Frankford: I don't necessarily expect you to know, but my belief is that district health councils are supposed to have input into major capital expenditures and identifying specific needs for regions. It would be interesting to know whether that took place in this situation.

Mr Mishchenko: Yes, well, I'm not in a position to answer that.

Mr Frankford: Thank you.


Mr Tilson: I'd like to respond to some of the comments made by Mr O'Connor. I will say that I am pleased he's taking back some of the concerns of this committee to the Minister of Health, because sometimes when a committee gets working on a subject such as this -- I compare it to when we did a review of school boards. It was almost picking at random several school boards -- I forget the exact policy, how we arrived at which boards were chosen -- but quite often, if there's a problem in one school board, a similar problem exists in other school boards.

I think it's most important that the Minister of Health or the deputy minister, perhaps both, attend at this committee to talk to us about the policies of the government on the acquisition of equipment, the construction of wings such as this. We have now discovered that vacant space has existed in a hospital for a considerable period, that there has been redundant equipment, that the funding was provided by the hospital for most of the acquisitions -- or all the acquisitions?

Mr Mishchenko: For this it was the ministry, not the hospital.

Mr Tilson: The ministry provided the complete funding for this. I'm concerned, when we hear of hospitals being closed -- there was mention in the House yesterday of cutbacks in funding to our hospital system. One of the Liberal members asked a question in the House commenting on the reduction of funding for an operating budget, I believe, at the Joseph Brant hospital. When you hear that and then you hear of waste, tremendous waste going on, I think this committee has an obligation to pursue it fully.

Mr Chair, I'd like to canvass the merits of -- it's fine to have the deputy minister and assistant deputy minister. I believe it would be useful for this committee to review the political policies of the Ministry of Health. We obviously have discovered, through inadvertence or otherwise, some serious problems with the Ministry of Health. I believe this committee should be receiving the attendance of the minister herself to respond to these various serious concerns that have been raised at this committee. I know the minister's busy, but perhaps a time slot could be arranged where the minister herself would appear to respond to some of the questions of this committee.

The Acting Chair: Mr Tilson, I think it's very unusual for a minister to appear before this committee, or any other committee, and discuss policy. If the minister is willing to appear before this committee and discuss policy -- but you will agree with me that at the present time we're responsible for a review of the audit. Maybe Mr O'Connor can persuade the minister to appear.

Mr O'Connor: Mr Tilson has certainly raised some interesting concerns here. If we were to put this in perspective, we should really take a look at who the minister was at the time -- maybe it was Dennis Timbrell -- and bring him in to explain how the whole thing came about.

One of the things we really need to take a look at is the fact that hospitals have been funded on an ever-increasing basis. For the past decade they were getting increases in double digits, 10% or 12%. This government made the move to say: "I'm sorry, but we just haven't got the dollars to spend like that any more. It's just not possible to continue." In fact, we've seen spending in health care as part of the provincial budget go from a quarter up to a third of the budget right now.

So when we put a limit on them, we're then seeing people say we're closing the hospital beds. If there's an overcapacity in hospital beds, we shouldn't be ever increasing that funding as previous governments have done. That's changing, and I appreciate that.

What I'm saying here, though, is that ministers change and governments change, and top bureaucrats within a ministry would have a far better idea of how some of the funding comes out and give us more of the history to it. We could see where the change is going; I think it's a positive change. The concerns this committee raises are certainly going to be of concern in the minister's office and the minister is going to take them quite seriously.

Given what I said last week, reviews and what not taking place right now within the ministry, maybe we'd be asking a bit too much to try to get the minister here for the entire review as we go through this review by the Provincial Auditor. I think what we do in this committee is very important. We haven't had a minister before us, and perhaps the minister will respond that she would like to appear.

I think what we need to do is to continue with what we're doing. The invite is open to the minister to come here, but we've got word that people from the minister's office, the deputy minister and what not, are going to be here, at which time we could them some questions.

I think the important thing is that the Provincial Auditor has responded to concerns that have been raised to this committee and is here to respond to questions we have around it, and not to the funding methods in place back in the late 1970s and early 1980s that led to this sort of thing. I don't think we should be dragging up stuff from that far back in the past. Those cabinet ministers aren't even ministers any longer.

Perhaps we could get back to the review. I appreciate Mr Tilson's concern. It is something the minister takes seriously, and I'll make sure it is heard by the minister.

The Acting Chair: To reassure Mr Tilson, I'm sure after the visit of the deputy minister and/or the ADM we could follow up. But at the present time, I think we should concentrate our efforts on the audit.

Mr Tilson: That's exactly what I was going to say. I'm pleased that Mr O'Connor has left it open that it might be possible for the minister to attend. It's fine to talk about prehistoric history, but we're now in the 1990s and we find we have a wing that's vacant and some redundant equipment. Questions will be asked of the deputy minister and the assistant deputy minister about what other hospitals they believe these situations exist in, and, more importantly, what they're going to do about it. It may well be that they can't answer some of those questions and it will be necessary to request the minister to come to provide her comments.

The Acting Chair: Can we go on with the audit?

Mr Mishchenko: The next concern dealt with the construction of the Max Bell Research Centre. The concern was that the centre was built at a cost of $26 million and has hardly been used since being built. We reviewed the costs of construction, and the total cost was approximately $15.7 million, not $26 million. We visited the facility and walked through it and found that, with the exception of one floor, which is being used for storage, the remaining five floors are being used for the purposes intended; that is, the five floors basically contain fully equipped laboratories which are being used for research purposes.

The Acting Chair: Any questions?

Mr Tilson: Well, just to confirm that the allegations made are accurate, with the exception that $15.7 million is a more realistic figure as opposed to $26 million. But for everything else, you believe the allegations are correct?

Mr Mishchenko: No, we don't believe the allegation is correct. The facility is being used. The point was that it's hardly been used since being built, but we found that five of the six floors are definitely being used for research purposes. They're equipped with laboratories and there's staff assigned to working in the laboratories and things of that nature.

Mr Tilson: And the one floor --

Mr Mishchenko: One floor is being used for storage, that's correct. Maybe to provide a little clarification, a research facility doesn't have the regular hustle and bustle you would see on a hospital floor. There are labs and people working in laboratories, but you wouldn't see as much activity, running back and forth down the halls. But they definitely are equipped with laboratories and there are research doctors and scientists who are working out of the facility.


Mr Frankford: The funding of this is from the Ministry of Health, from private funding or what?

Mr Mishchenko: I didn't look into the exact distribution of funding, but there was a fund-raising activity which raised funds for the hospital. In addition, there was a donation from a foundation. I think that's why it's called the Max Bell Research Centre; there was a donation there as well. There may have been some funding from the ministry, but I'm not sure about the distribution of that.

Mr Frankford: So it is predominantly from a foundation, is it?

Mr Mishchenko: I wouldn't want to say that for sure because I'm not exactly clear on the numbers there as to who provided the money. I'm not sure whether they provided a higher percentage or a lower percentage, but they definitely did provide some of the funds.

Mr Frankford: Is the organization of it completely by the hospital or is it in some ways a self-standing foundation?

Mr Mishchenko: No, the hospital's involved, the University of Toronto is involved as well, and some of the research work that is being done there is provided through grants from the federal government and other organizations. So it's attached to the hospital and it's part of the hospital, but the funding to run the centre comes from various sources.

Mr Frankford: It would seem to me that if one was really to get into this from your perspective, there are parts of it which are really outside the public responsibility, but it's not clear to what extent that is.

Mr Mishchenko: We didn't look into that. It wasn't an issue that had been brought up as a concern, so we didn't pursue that aspect of it. We were more concerned with whether it being used for the purposes intended and things of that nature.

The Acting Chair: Could we go on to the revolving door concern? We might have quite a few of those doors in Ontario.

Mr Tilson: That's an understatement.

Mr Mishchenko: To try to capsulize the concern, primarily the concern was that a revolving door was acquired free from a casino in Nevada, which resulted in renovations costing approximately $1 million, and that the door hasn't worked properly and the hospital has had to pay someone to come from the United States to fix and maintain the door.

We found that the door was actually purchased from a company in Burlington, Ontario. The hospital had requested competitive bids for the supply and installation of a revolving door in the Eaton Wing, and the door that was actually purchased was originally intended for a casino. It had already been constructed and was intended to go to a casino in Nevada. However, plans had changed and the door was available at the manufacturer's facility in Michigan.

The cost of this door was significantly less than other doors that were quoted on. Actually, according to the architects involved at the time, the door was above specs, so they felt it was a reasonable purchase for the hospital to make.

The total cost of the door was $98,000. In addition to that, the hospital spent $69,000 for renovations to the front of the Eaton Wing to enable the door to be installed. This brought the total cost of this project to $167,000.

The door was put in to replace existing doors. Existing doors that were there were no longer felt to be functional and the hospital was looking at coming up with the best alternative to the doors that were there. The feeling was that technology had improved significantly in the area of designs of revolving doors and had proceeded in that fashion. This was all approved by various committees of the board.

Initially there were operating problems with the door; however, they were corrected at no cost to the hospital. There were people who came up from both Burlington and from Michigan, the plant in Michigan, to take corrective action. Some of the problems dealt with motion sensors and things of that nature, but there was no additional cost to the hospital. It was all paid for; as part of the agreement there was a warranty, and the manufacturer and the distributor both acted and corrected the problems that were there.

After the door was installed there were some concerns that it wasn't being used by everyone entering the building. There was a problem with people with seeing-eye dogs, people with wheelchairs getting access, so the hospital proceeded to install a sliding door adjacent to the revolving door and it's a mechanized sliding door. The total cost of this, including the door and the renovations, was $75,000.

We observed the doors I guess over a fair period of time during the course of the audit, going in and out, and found that they were working properly from what we could tell. In discussions with staff at the hospital, primarily in the maintenance area, they indicated that the problems that had existed previously had been corrected.

One of the points made was that staff had notified administration that the original revolving door wouldn't be able to accommodate wheelchairs, even before it was installed. We didn't find any evidence of that. We did see that a lot of people with wheelchairs are using the sliding door.

The Acting Chair: Any questions? Mr O'Connor.

Mr O'Connor: The costs do seem astronomical, no doubt about it. Even the sliding door, which most hospitals are equipped with now, makes access a lot easier. Is $75,000 a competitive cost?

Mr Mishchenko: Yes.

Mr O'Connor: In another building in downtown Toronto, would that be a competitive cost? It just seems so astronomical for me. That's half the price of what it cost for my house that I live in; for one door it just seems incredible.

Mr Mishchenko: You have to see the sliding door. It's a fairly sophisticated item. It was properly tendered. I don't have the number in front of me but I think the door itself was about $37,000. The additional costs dealt with the actual structural changes that had to be made in that portion of the hospital to accommodate that door. So the $75,000 includes that additional work, and it was a fair amount of work involved. And that was all it cost, as well.

The Acting Chair: About the sliding door, is it the same or --

Mr Mishchenko: Mr O'Connor, you were asking about the sliding door, I hope?

Mr O'Connor: I was asking about the sliding door.

The Acting Chair: I'm sorry.

Mr O'Connor: I think he's demonstrated some of the concerns around the revolving door and some of the history I find somewhat comical right now, but I'm just looking at the sliding door alone; $75,000 did seem like an awful lot of money. If it was that much for a patio door at my house, I don't think it would be happening.

Mr Mishchenko: We're talking about a fairly large door.

The Acting Chair: It has got to be a fairly large door. Any other questions?

Mr Tilson: Mr O'Connor's question really wasn't answered, though. His question was with respect to a comparison of this type -- I mean, he's right. If you have a door in another building, a similar type of door, presumably you're thinking of handicapped, you're thinking of --

Interjection: Automatic.


Mr Tilson: Yes. Is it possible to make a similar comparison? I guess we're getting to the question.

Mr Mishchenko: I'm sure it's possible. The only thing we did have is that there were competitive bids and this was the lowest bid they received for that particular type of door.

Mr Tilson: It was? Okay, that's really what I'm getting at.

Mr Mishchenko: You can compare to other facilities, but it was competitively acquired.

Mr Tilson: I understand; as long as there's proper tendering.

Mr Mishchenko: There were tenders, there were quotes received, and it was the lowest bid.

Mr Tilson: Okay, thank you.

Mr Mishchenko: The next issue we're dealing with is purchasing, which is at the top of page 20. The first concern dealt with seven skids of new infusion pumps that were stored in a wing of the hospital, which were not being used because doctors didn't like them, and also, the demand is less because of the decrease in the number of beds, and the pumps were acquired at a cost of approximately $2,000 each.

I'll just give you a little bit of background. I'm not going to get into the medical -- but infusion pumps are primarily used to administer drugs, medication to patients. From what we could determine, there could have been pumps sitting on skids. They could have been pumps awaiting testing before being used by the hospital, or they may have been old pumps that were being replaced and waiting to be returned to the manufacturer. We didn't find skids of pumps anywhere.

However, I think the important point is that the hospital does not purchase these pumps. The manufacturer supplies the pumps to the hospital, and in return the hospital agrees to purchase the supplies required to operate or to be used in these pumps from that manufacturer. So, basically, the cost of that pump would be built into the cost of the supplies that are being purchased. If a pump is sitting idle or is not being used, or a number of pumps are sitting idle and not being used, there would not be any materials purchased to operate them during that period of time, so there would be no cost to the hospital of having them sit there. I think that's basically all we could determine on that. We verified. We checked invoices from the suppliers to ensure that there were no payments specifically for the pumps and found that definitely there were only payments for the supplies for those pumps.

Mr Frankford: Just to clarify: You say "supplies." In your text here it says "the supplies required to operate the pumps."

Mr Mishchenko: Right, like tubing and things of that nature, any materials that go along with it. It wouldn't be the medication, but it would maybe be the actual bags and things of that nature. But we didn't go into a lot of detail on that.

Mr Frankford: I'm surprised, when you say "supplies"; this doesn't seem correct, "the supplies required to operate." It's not to operate the pumps, is it? It's part of the whole process of giving intravenous fluids.

Mr Mishchenko: Yes.

Mr Frankford: Am I not correct that it would in fact be the fluids or the drugs -- I'm not sure what -- that are being supplied in this process, that this is where the cost of the pump is being built in?

Mr Mishchenko: I think there may be something related to that, but I can't give you a definite answer. You may be correct on that.

Mr Frankford: It may be, as far as the intravenous fluids go, that there is a contract and that this includes the pumps to administer it.

Mr Mishchenko: My recollection, unfortunately, isn't too great on that, but I can get back to you on that just to verify. I do have copies of the invoices.

Mr Frankford: I don't know whether this would be a number of suppliers or if essentially it's just one. I think intravenous fluids tend to be manufactured by either one or a very small number of --

Mr Mishchenko: There isn't a large number of suppliers of the fluids or of the equipment.

Mr Frankford: Okay. I think it would be helpful to clarify what we're talking about, because I find this text not really clear.

Mr Mishchenko: I can get back to you on that.

Mr Frankford: It's certainly not the supplies that make the pumps function.

Mr Mishchenko: No, it's the supplies that make the pumps function, and it may also be some of the supplies that are being used in the treatment of the patients, but I can clarify that for you.

The Chair (Mr Remo Mancini): Anyone else? Okay, carry on, please.

Mr Mishchenko: The next concern dealt with the replacement of clocks at the hospital with new digital clocks, at a cost of approximately $1 million. The Toronto General division has in excess of 1,000 clocks, and up to June 1992 approximately 200 of these had been replaced by digital clocks. In addition, the hospital has replaced one of the master control units that operate the clocks in the hospital. The total cost for the replacement of these clocks plus the master controller was approximately $56,000.

We are advised that the reason the hospital was switching to digital clocks was that they had a lower cost and a longer life span. From what we could see, they're only being put in whenever another clock has been deemed defective, and they are replacing those defective clocks with this new clocks. Eventually, over a period of time, I'm sure the hospital will have replaced all the clocks it has, but we didn't see any evidence of a massive plan to do that.

The Chair: Okay, next.

Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): Who made this decision? The board, a consultant or what?

Mr Mishchenko: It was made -- I want to be correct on this -- by the maintenance people and the plant operations people in the hospital, I think. They were involved in the decision to go with digital clocks as opposed to the normal analogue clocks that were there previously. They had done some research and found that they could get better warranties with digital clocks and that they seemed to have a longer life span than analogue clocks, and their price was lower.

Mr Grandmaître: And this research was done through consultants or --

Mr Mishchenko: I don't recall.

Mr Tilson: Do you need a consultant to see if the clocks work?

Mr Grandmaître: Well, who knows? All kinds of things are -- great things --

Mr Mishchenko: We're not aware of any consultants being involved. However, the cost was so small, $56,000, I don't think that they would have bothered to hire consultants to make that decision. I think they basically did a bit of a test themselves to determine which was the best method to go with, and they decided to go with the digital clocks.

Mr O'Connor: The master control clock -- what's the purpose of that?

Mr Mishchenko: What it enables the hospital to do is change all the clocks in the hospital when time goes forward or back or things of that nature. It's a control unit. Rather than having somebody go physically to each clock in the hospital and make changes, it's a unit that does that automatically. It's actually not a very expensive unit -- well, it depends on your definition of expensive. I think it was about $2,000. What it does is it provides the facility to make changes to all the clocks in the hospital at one time.

The Chair: It's similar to our digital clock on the ledge, something like that.

Mr O'Connor: Yes. They probably have a control room like we have, where we put the camera up on the fourth floor.


The Chair: Okay. Carry on, please.

Mr Mishchenko: The next issue dealt with electrical beds being purchased for the intensive care unit. The concern was that 60 new electrical beds were purchased at a total cost of $1.2 million without consulting employees in the unit. The concern was that these beds didn't work properly and required a great deal of maintenance after less than a year in use, and that initially the plan was to purchase five of these beds as well as others before deciding which model to buy.

We found that there were 56 electrical beds purchased for the intensive care unit, which is fairly close to the number provided in the concern. The total cost of these beds was $466,000 as opposed to $1.2 million.

These were used to replace 56 beds which were 15 years old and were determined to be in fairly poor condition. Three vendors were requested, actually, to submit quotations on the supply of a bed. However, only two were considered in the end because one of the suppliers was not able to provide a bed that could be used for clinical trial at the hospital.

There were many evaluations done of the two products that did provide beds for clinical trial, and these were from various nursing staff, nursing managers and other people at the hospital. As well, six staff members from the hospital visited the manufacturer's facility to satisfy themselves that the correct decision was being made.

We actually did see documented evidence that these evaluations were done by the nursing staff. That was the basis the decision was made on. As of July 6, which is when we were looking at this particular area, we were only able to find repairs totalling approximately $1,400 for the 56 beds. We had discussions with the staff in the maintenance area responsible for looking after the beds. They indicated there hasn't been much maintenance required to date.

The Chair: Okay. Next item.

Mr Mishchenko: The next concern dealt with purchase of beds for other wings. The concern was that beds were purchased that were no longer needed because of bed closures and that someone had failed to cancel the order, and that approximately 50 beds, costing $10,000 to $15,000 each, are stored in the Max Bell wing of the hospital.

We found that since 1989 the hospital has purchased 160 new ward beds: 80 for the Toronto General division and 80 for Toronto Western. The cost of these beds is approximately $2,500 each, or a total cost of $200,000 for each of the two divisions. We didn't find any beds being stored in the Max Bell wing or where we --

Mr Tilson: Excuse me. You did or you did not?

Mr Mishchenko: We did not, and we were not pointed in the direction of where these beds may be. The new beds were purchased to replace existing beds that were not longer considered usable. From what we were informed, regardless of whether there were going to be bed closures or not, the beds were still needed to replace old beds.

The next concern was that the hospital was considering replacing bushes on College Street, when the gardener responsible for the area felt all that was needed was a little spray on the existing bushes. We spoke to the employees responsible for gardening, including an employee who has been in that department for approximately 20 years. They were not aware of any plans to replace bushes at the present time. One employee recalled that a supervisor who had left more than two years ago had mentioned wanting to replace some of the bushes, but it was never done. We did find they moved some of the bushes, but there was no expenditure for additional bushes.

The Chair: I think that's acceptable. Next item.

Mr Mishchenko: The next issue dealt with a rock garden that was put in front of the revolving door area of the Eaton building and that there was a cost of $90,000 to $130,000 for this rock garden. The actual cost of the rock garden, including construction, design and materials primarily, was $60,000.

The purpose of the rock garden was to eliminate a safety hazard caused by people walking through the traffic circle. There's a circle in front of the Eaton building where cars go around when they're dropping patients off or picking patients up. There used to be a safety hazard with people walking through that traffic circle to get into the hospital from -- and I can't recall the street -- Elizabeth Street, I think it is. The feeling was that to eliminate this hazard, they would install a rock garden on that island. From what we could tell, if there was a safety hazard, it definitely has been eliminated. I don't think anybody walks through that rock garden to get through to the main doors of the Eaton building.

The Chair: Any questions? Next item.

Mr Mishchenko: The next concern dealt with the hospital spending $50,000 to $60,000 to recarpet one wing of a floor while it's claiming a deficit last year.

We asked which floor they were referring to and visited that floor of the hospital and found that most of that floor does not have carpeting; it's primarily tiled. There is some carpeting in a few of the offices, but nothing extensive. We went back through expenditure records over the last three years to see the amount of money that might have been spent on carpeting for that floor and we found that it was approximately $1,500.

We also did further work to see if there were any other floors that might have incurred a significant expenditure for carpeting and we didn't find any examples where $50,000 to $60,000 was spent to recarpet a wing of a floor in the hospital. We found that most carpet replacements were part of a major renovation project which required the replacing of the existing flooring or of the carpeting. For example, approximately $18,000 was spent to recarpet sections of the nursing residence, but that's the extent of what we were able to find.

Mr Tilson: My question is, what brought this on? A report, oral and written, was made to us by the union people from the hospital.

Mr Mishchenko: Right.

Mr Tilson: Many, if not most, of the allegations that were made in that report, you appear to be saying simply are not true. What you have just told us now about carpeting, for example, the way it's been presented to us is a complete fabrication by the union officials. My question to you is, did you have an opportunity to speak to the people who prepared that report to ask them whether you misunderstood any of their allegations?

Mr Mishchenko: Maybe I'll explain the process that we used on this audit. Once the motion was passed, we went through the Hansard for that particular day, which was May 7, 1992, and summarized what we thought were the concerns related to the items raised in the motion. We provided a copy of that to both the representative from the union and to the officials from the hospital.

We had meetings with both parties at separate times and went through each allegation to ensure that we understood. Primarily when we went through the understanding phase, we spent a fair amount of time with that union representative plus another person who was with him at that meeting. We wanted to make sure that we were not misinformed or were not misinterpreting, or even if there was a chance that something may have been said that came out incorrectly in Hansard. We wanted to make sure we were not going in the wrong direction.

We left him with a copy of that and went through it with him and then had another meeting a few weeks later where we were asking for any documentation the union may have pertaining to the specific concerns that had been raised.

At the end of the audit, once we had done all our work and reached our conclusions on each of these, we had another meeting with that representative and again went through the complete list of concerns and presented our perspective as to what we found on the audit. If there was any chance that there was any further information we could be provided with or any more details that could point us in a different direction or where he had information that disagreed with what we had, we wanted to ensure that there was a full opportunity for us to take a look at. There was no further information provided to us at that meeting, or subsequent to that as well.


Mr Jim Otterman: I think it's appropriate to add here that as Mr Mishchenko explained, we provided every opportunity for people to come forward and provide additional information to us. Essentially, no additional information came to us, other than was presented in that brief to the May 7 committee. Normally, in an investigation type of audit of this nature, staff come forward once you're in the premises and after they get a certain feel for the conduct of the audit. That didn't happen.

Mr Tilson: As I say, of the allegations made by the union, many of them have been proven to be almost fabricated, like this last one, over carpeting. It's not even close. It's a complete fabrication. There have been some discrepancies that have developed, and I think it's been a useful exercise in that respect.

The Ministry of Health, I think, will have to answer more so than the hospital. The way your audit has been presented, it seems as if the hospital has been exonerated as far as any wrongdoing on its part is concerned. I look at that report, particularly what both you and Mr Otterman have just said. It gives me grave concern. Are you able to tell this committee what this audit cost the taxpayers of of Ontario in man-hours and other expenses? I don't want it down to the exact dollars.

Mr Mishchenko: I can't come up with a number, but during the course of the audit we had four staff working on it, probably full-time, for approximately two months. In addition, there was time spent putting the report together and things of that nature. But the actual conducting of the audit went over about a two- or two-and-a-half-month time frame for us to be able to get this work and get the report to the committee fairly close to the date that was requested in the motion. Unfortunately, I haven't sat down and tried to come up with any dollars.

Mr Otterman: We didn't spend any additional money over and above our budget. This is simply a matter of reallocating staff to this audit that we otherwise would have used on another audit.

The Chair: Anyone else? Anything further to report?

Mr Noel Duignan (Halton North): Can we just go back? I asked a number of questions last week around Mr Begley's arrangement with the hospital. When can we expect an answer to the questions I asked last week?

Mr Tilson: They're in the mail.

Mr Duignan: Now we're in real trouble.

Mr Mishchenko: I can give you a little bit of information, I think, related to some of the questions. We were trying to get it mainly from the files we had already accumulated as a result of the current audit we had. We were waiting until the end of this meeting today to see what other issues the committee would be interested in our pursuing. We were hoping that if there were a list, then we could do them all at one time, because this is very disruptive to the hospital in the time that it takes when we're in there doing work. We wanted to make sure that we weren't going back and asking little questions every time something came up and causing any problems. But I can give you a little bit of a rundown on some of the information now.

Mr Duignan: I would prefer to wait until you have the whole list together. That saves some trouble. On the same subject, there was a concern raised around the whole question of Begley. They talked about the tendering process. I think the concern raised was the position that Mr Begley holds or the retainer that he has held in the hospital for over 10 years now. Was that ever tendered? Has it been tendered recently, and if not, why not?

Mr Mishchenko: It's not Mr Begley.

Mr Duignan: And Associates. It's the company, yes.

Mr Mishchenko: It's the firm. As far as we're aware, it was not tendered initially and there's no indication that it had been tendered since that period of time. It was acquired when the hospital felt, back I guess around 1980, that there was a need for this type of arrangement.

Originally they hired somebody on staff to perform this particular role, and then in 1983 they made a decision that rather than having somebody on full-time staff, they would rather have it as a general contracting arrangement. However, the people who were involved in making that decision at the hospital are no longer there, so it was difficult for us to get any information on that.

Mr Duignan: That's fine. However, surely this is a service provided to the hospital by Begley and Associates, and I notice there was a new arrangement completed recently, or it's about to be completed.

Mr Mishchenko: Right.

Mr Duignan: Was that tendered? Did anyone else ever get a shot at doing that?

Mr Mishchenko: Not that we're aware of. I think the decision was made on the basis of continuity, and we found no indication that there were discussions with any other interested parties in performing this task for the hospital.

Mr Duignan: In your opinion as Provincial Auditor, should this have been tendered?

Mr Otterman: Yes. Technically you could tender this type of service, like many other items that you're acquiring. A specification could have been written and it could have been tendered, or some other form of competitive process.

Mr Duignan: We have actually no idea of the amount of money we're talking about here, because that's one of the questions I've asked. Are you, as Provincial Auditor, concerned that this was not tendered?

The Chair: I think maybe those questions could be directed to either the assistant deputy minister of Health when she comes in or to the hospital.

Mr Duignan: Okay.

The Chair: Do the best you can.

Mr Otterman: In a general response, I think we, as auditors, are generally concerned whenever we come across a process where competitive situations do not exist, where there's fair and equal access to all potential suppliers.

Mr Duignan: Just a follow-up question again on that: Mr Begley is also director of planning construction at the hospital, is he not?

Mr Mishchenko: Not Mr Begley, the other one. The president of the firm is.

Mr Duignan: Does he sit on a committee of the hospital?

Mr Mishchenko: Yes. He sits on the building committee of the hospital.

Mr Duignan: Doesn't that committee agree to the contracts to hire additional personnel, subject to the approval of the hospital's president or the building committee or the board of trustees, when they want to expand his particular company to hire more staff to oversee projects?

Mr Mishchenko: They're involved in that, yes.

Mr Duignan: Isn't that a conflict?

Mr Robert V. Callahan (Brampton South): Isn't Bill 40 a conflict?

Mr Duignan: You'll have an opportunity to ask questions, if you wish. I'm using my opportunity to ask questions.

Mr Otterman: Potentially, yes. If the person is a voting member of the committee and did not declare a conflict and absent him or herself from the process, you would have a conflict.

Mr Duignan: Do you know in fact that this was the case?

Mr Otterman: I don't know that. I don't know if Nick can answer.

Mr Mishchenko: I think our understanding is that when it's things of that nature, the president of Begley would make a presentation to the building committee and the building committee would make the determination. It wouldn't be the president of the firm voting on that particular recommendation. He would be making a recommendation to the committee and the committee would be making the decision as to whether to approve or not approve. That deals with whether they were tendering for the construction of a section of the hospital or a major renovation project, something of that nature. That would be presented to the committee and the committee would make the decision and then make that recommendation to the full board.

Mr Duignan: But you are not sure whether in fact he voted or didn't vote. Is there any way of knowing? Do you have access to the minutes?

Mr Mishchenko: I can determine that. I can let you know on that. My feeling is no, he did not.

Mr Duignan: That's fine.


The Chair: Any further questions at this time?

Mr Callahan: When I look at these and reflect on the comments that were made by Mr Tilson, and most specifically the one about the revolving door being free of charge from a bankrupt Las Vegas casino, and recognizing the fact as well that when this came out, when the public accounts committee ordered this on the basis of comments that were made to this committee, there was massive press about it. Toronto Hospital got a bad look, a black eye.

I think it emphasizes the fact that if we're going to hear from people in this committee, then perhaps we should be putting them under oath. I find this absolutely incredible that almost every one of these allegations that has been investigated proved to be bogus. The one that really blows my mind is the door from the casino.

I can see where people would come before us perhaps thinking, "Well, maybe that's not aboveboard; we want that investigated," but surely to God, where did the person get the idea of the free revolving door from a casino in Las Vegas? I mean, that defies credibility.

Mr Tilson: There's no credibility.

Mr Callahan: I think what we should do as a committee is consider that when there's going to be serious allegations made by any group that is going to be investigated by the auditor, we consider that we use the power of the oath to have them state that under oath, or at least on information and belief that they believe that to be true.

There's no way we can rectify the bad press Toronto Hospital had, and in essence what we've done is we've used public servants, who could probably be doing something more meaningful than chasing a hound into the hole, and I think we really have to look at that from two standpoints.

Citizens of this province have been clearly maligned. I hope to God they pursue whatever legal remedies they have in regard to the statements that were made to this committee and the fallout that may have occurred to their fund-raising or whatever else, and I would certainly hope that this committee in future would exercise discretion. I think we have the power to do that; we have the power to require them to be under oath. If there's some suspicion that the allegations that are being made are just a wild goose chase, put them under oath.

I think we should seek the power -- we probably don't have it now -- to require that if a bogus statement is made to us that results in nothing -- and it's really bogus with the Las Vegas revolving door type of thing -- they should be required to pay the costs of the audit. Why should the taxpayers of this province have to pay for it?

Those are my suggestions in terms of what I read in this report.

Mr O'Connor: I can see where the concerns are being raised at this point in time, and I appreciate them. I guess some of the difficulty from some of the people who made the presentation from the union that brought this forward clearly shows that there isn't a fair sharing of information.

Mr Tilson: But they were making facts up. They made things up.

Mr O'Connor: Excuse me, Mr Chair. Obviously, you could see where some of the foundation for some of the concerns come from. Whether or not they're totally correct, at that point they were making allegations. The thing with the whole casino deal, it turns out that the bid was entertained from some manufacturer in Michigan. The door was originally slated for a casino.

I guess part of the problem is that information being brought forward wasn't the complete information. I wouldn't think the union did this maliciously. They operated on what they felt was correct information. I'm sure they weren't doing it just to be mischievous. They honestly felt it was something that needed to be looked into. As a public accounts committee, we felt they were certainly very serious allegations, certainly something that needed to be looked at, and the role of the Provincial Auditor's office, through this committee, was directed to take a look at them.

If the case was put that they were required to swear an oath, feeling that this information they were presenting to the committee was correct, I'm sure they would have. The fact is that when they came to the committee, they felt the information they had was correct. I guess the difficulty is that if there were a better sharing of information within the hospital structure, if somehow or other the union were involved with some of the discussions that took place prior to this point, these allegations may not have shaped up the way they did.

It's a whole thing of information not being shared effectively. Some of the information is correct; on some of the information you could see where some of the basis for their information had come from, but it wasn't totally correct. Of course, that's the purpose of having the audit, to take a look at the information, to take that inside look at allegations that have been made, to find out whether or not there's foundation and to remedy any situation that needed to be remedied.

I don't think this committee would be doing any favour to anyone, especially to the fine citizens of this province, if we ignored allegations because they seemed a little bit strange. With the casinos and the revolving door it certainly was a strange and wonderful allegation, and we see now after the auditor's report where the whole thing came about. Obviously, it's an information problem. It's a sharing of information problem that is evident right from the operations of the hospital.

Anyway, there are areas where I concur with my colleagues and there are some areas that I think we have to take a second look at.

The Chair: We have Mr Tilson, Mr Callahan, Mr Grandmaître.

Mr Tilson: The fact of the matter is that when we read the allegations that were made and we listen to the allegations that were made by these union leaders, and we now listen to what the auditor's office has told us, facts were fabricated. Mr Callahan is right. If this were a court of law and these people made these presentations, these very serious allegations under oath -- under different circumstances, people are sued for libel and slander for much less, I can assure you. Mr Callahan is absolutely right. The integrity of the hospital, the whole fund-raising mechanism of the hospital is at risk when you make these serious allegations.

When you listen to the union leaders' presentation and you read the auditor's report and listen to what the auditors are saying, "fabricated," probably a court of law would be charging that they breached their oath and they would be charged. Not only that, the cost of this audit -- four staff for two months, plus additional time putting this thing together, plus the time of this committee -- is rather large for facts that were fabricated by union leaders against a reputable hospital, and it's shameful.

I think Mr Callahan has made some interesting points. I mean, it's costly to put these things together. Obviously we have an obligation to follow through on serious allegations, but at the same time we must be satisfied that they are responsible allegations. How do we do that? I suppose I'm slightly off the topic of hospitals. I'm really responding to the issue Mr Callahan raised, because I think it's a legitimate concern.

How do we respond to things? Somebody writes us a letter saying that some particular institution is doing the following. Well then, do we just send the auditor off on a merry chase and it results that this is just some animosity or some other political reason that these charges are made?

I guess I'm looking at the process of this committee, Mr Chairman. As a person who has been elected for the first term, it's something I'm finding rather difficult to understand, when we spend these vast amounts of moneys on allegations that have proven to be absolutely false. This hospital has been innocently -- they have been assaulted. That's what has happened to this hospital, and it's shameful.

I'm really pursuing Mr Callahan's line of thinking, which is, what in future is our obligation as a committee to satisfy ourselves that allegations being made are worthy or are credible to instruct the auditor to go off and make the inquiries? I don't know whether this is a question for you or to the clerk, but it's a concern.


The Chair: Maybe one day the committee will spend some time discussing that very point, as to how we should deal with these matters in the future. Maybe we'll review how they've been dealt with in the past and see if something more suitable to the members can be put forward.

Mr Callahan: I always try to not point fingers as to my suspicions of why these allegations were made, but in light of what has been said by my colleague across the room in terms of the innocence of this having been done, I have to put on the record that my suspicion is that when the computers were brought in, the union was concerned about the loss of jobs and that is what triggered the whole thing. That's my suspicion. I may be wrong, and I don't usually point my finger at it, but having heard the innocent reason why this was all done over there, I have to say that there are two sides to this. My suspicion certainly directs me in the line of this being either a deliberate move on the part of CUPE, or perhaps one with lack of any thought at all: They saw something, smelled a little smoke and thought there was a fire. But I think they had motives. I have to say that.

More importantly, I think there has to be a report from the Chairman of this committee. In fact, I would suggest that a press conference be held and that these findings be made public in a press conference by the Chairman and perhaps a couple of members of this committee in order to exonerate the Toronto Hospital from all the press it got before -- it was rotten press; I remember reading it -- and the impact that may have had on its integrity, which up to that point had been impeccable, the impact it may have had on its ability to raise funds, particularly in this climate, where dollars for health care are at a premium.

I think we have to give very serious consideration to the things I and Mr Tilson have spoken to. Mr Chairman, we will do this, but I think this is a matter that should be placed on our agenda at the earliest opportunity, as to how we keep people from setting off a witchhunt that can seriously affect the integrity and the character of other people or corporations or whatever and result in tremendous amounts of money being spent by the taxpayer for an audit. We have to tell the public out there that you can't come forward and just decide that because a woman was stirring a cauldron, she's a witch and we're going to burn her; that's how the burnings of witches in Salem took place, I guess.

We are accountable to the public to be fair, to not allow people's reputations to be besmirched. I think that's a very important issue. I would move, as a motion, that the Chairman and one member from each party hold a press conference to report the results of the auditor's findings; not just report them, but indicate that in the main, the allegations that were made were totally groundless and that we're doing this in order to re-establish the reputation of the Toronto Hospital, which has perhaps been damaged or injured by these allegations. I think that's the only fair way to deal with it.

The Chair: Any comments on Mr Callahan's motion?

Mr Grandmaître: What Mr Callahan is trying to bring to light are the results of the auditor's report. Mr Chair, can I ask the Provincial Auditor if recommendations from the Provincial Auditor will follow? Now that you have all the facts before you, all those allegations and so on and so forth, will you --

The Chair: I have problems, not with the content of your motion or what you're trying to get but --

Mr Grandmaître: I'm still on Mr Callahan's motion, because he didn't mention the results or the content of the auditor's report.

The Chair: You're kind of stretching it.

Mr Grandmaître: I may be stretching, but I think this report is stretching too. It's not a fair question?

The Chair: It's a very fair question and I want you to get an answer, but Mr Callahan has put a motion on the floor and we must discuss the motion. I'm sorry, Mr Grandmaître. Could the auditor take note of Mr Grandmaître's question and in due course, as quickly as possible, we'll get him an answer? Any comments or discussion?

Mr Paul R. Johnson (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings): I'd like to hear the motion again before I speak to it, please.

The Chair: Could the clerk recap the motion, please?

Clerk of the Committee (Ms Tannis Manikel): This is what I took down. Mr Callahan can correct me if I've summarized the last part too tightly:

Mr Callahan moved that the Chair and one member from each party hold a press conference to discuss the report of the Provincial Auditor on the Toronto General division of the Toronto Hospital. Would you like anything more in that?

Mr Callahan: I went further, to discuss the results of the report and the utter groundlessness of the allegations as found by the Provincial Auditor.

The Chair: I would caution you about putting that in the motion. You're making a motion that's coming to conclusions and the report will draw its own conclusion.

Mr Callahan: Well, then, to give the Chair and the two members the widest latitude in terms of reaffirming the brilliant character the Toronto Hospital had prior to being besmirched by this witchhunt.

The Chair: I thought the way the motion was written was probably the fairest. Maybe the clerk can re-read the motion. Mr Callahan, could we just have this re-read?

Clerk of the Committee: That the Chair and one member from each party hold a press conference to discuss the report of the Provincial Auditor on the Toronto General division of the Toronto Hospital.

Mr Callahan: I think that's fine; that'll do.

Mr Johnson: Isn't it true that what's taking place today in here is public information and that the comments and the concerns raised by all members of this committee are public information? The fact that some have said that these allegations are unfounded is on the record now, and I'm sure this information can be reviewed by any member of the press gallery, or anyone for that matter, to use in any way he or she may see fit.

I'm equally concerned, and have been for some time, with regard to how it is that allegations or information, right or wrong, comes before any committee for any committee to examine that particular information or that particular concern. I'm also concerned, being a member of this Legislative Assembly of Ontario, how allegations are made in the House.

Allegations are made based on information that may or may not be well founded. However, they're made, and here we have a situation. I've listened very carefully to the report from the auditor's office on the Toronto General division of the Toronto Hospital. I thought as I listened and I thought as I read this report that there was some basis for concern.

If you want to use a comparator, some of the information would suggest that there were areas where there was more information available and so there was more accuracy in the concerns than in other areas. For almost every item here, there was certainly some concern. Some of it was not well founded. Some of it may have been better founded, if that's a correct way of putting it.

With regard to Mr Callahan's motion, it may be a little premature to hold a press conference, as we know press conferences, to explain this. I think it would be good to hear, as Mr Grandmaître has said, what the auditor's recommendations might be as a result of this report. I think that basically it's just a little premature.


If there were no such thing as allegations in life, lawyers wouldn't have jobs, I suspect. However, they do exist: People make allegations and they may or may not be well founded, so we have ways and means of examining these allegations to get to the truth. I would respect the auditor and the report that was made, and I think that's exactly what's happened. Some concerns were raised, and who are we to say whether these concerns are valid or not until there's actually been an examination of these allegations or concerns, whatever you want to call them?

We've gone through the process. Any time anyone brings concerns before this committee, the public accounts committee, and we make a determination that we want to follow up these concerns by asking the auditor to do an audit, there are costs involved. Whether we think collectively and unanimously that these concerns or allegations warrant an investigation of the auditor, we come to some arrangement or some agreement and we agree that the auditor will look into the concerns further.

This was the case. As I said earlier, we could certainly debate whether or not the allegations were well founded. Without going through the report detail by detail, I think there were some concerns that had some legitimacy, and there were certainly some that, in my opinion, did not. However, in the broader aspects of the report, I think the job we asked for was done.

Yes, it's true that at one point in time reports were made in the media by the press that Toronto Hospital had some difficulties with managing some of its areas, with regard to dollars, with regard to how it operated. I think that's unfortunate, but any time allegations are made, isn't that what the media does, isn't that what the press does? They take these allegations and they can make an issue of them, whether they're well founded or not. At some point in time they have to be refuted or substantiated, and I think we have a clear indication in this report how each of these concerns have been addressed. They haven't all been entirely addressed in the same way. Some of the concerns raised did have some substance. The exact dollar figures may have varied somewhat or considerably; however, there was some substance to some of these concerns.

I think the result of this report now makes it clear exactly where the differences are between the allegations and the truth. In some there's a great difference; in others there's not so much of a difference.

Nevertheless, I can see where there certainly were some concerns; there were reasons why concerns were raised. As Mr O'Connor said earlier, some of these concerns were raised because of probably very poor communication. Maybe if there was an openness between the parties concerned and the party the allegations were made against, this wouldn't have been necessary; that is, to come before this committee and for the auditor to pursue the truth through his audit and bring this report forward to us.

I guess that's about all I have to say. I think it's a little premature for us to go forward with a press conference at this time.

The Chair: We're running a list. We have Mr Duignan, Dr Frankford and Mr Callahan.

Mr Duignan: I don't want to repeat too many of the things that were said by my colleagues. However, I do have a concern. Some allegations were made and the auditor did his report, and the truth in respect of some of the allegations has come out. I do have a concern that if anybody appears before any legislative committee making allegations or making a report, it should be based on fact. I'm just wondering, would it be appropriate for this committee to have the union representative back here --

Mr Callahan: That's my second motion if the first one doesn't pass.

Mr Duignan: -- to answer questions the members of this committee may have about the way, for example, the union put together its report and its allegations within that report.

I'm not going to be supporting the motion because of the fact that another witchhunt in relation to the union is not going to help the matter either. I'd rather see the union back here answering the questions from this committee as to how it put together its report and where it got its information from.

Mr Callahan: Mr Chair, I'll withdraw my motion and I'll support the motion that has been made that we bring the union back here and have it answer the questions by this committee. I think that's a good idea because it will clear it up. If they're innocent, fine; I'd like to see that done. But it will also say to any other group that if it tries to come here with what may not be properly founded in fact -- I'm not suggesting prejudging this -- it is going to be called back to answer for it when the auditor gets finished. That might be a great way of dealing with the whole issue.

The Chair: You're withdrawing your motion, Mr Callahan?

Mr Callahan: I'll withdraw my motion if Mr Duignan is putting a motion forward that we have CUPE, whatever the local is, come back here next meeting to answer our questions in terms of the facts that were put forward and the findings that were made by the auditor. I think that's a fair way of dealing with it.

The Chair: Mr Callahan, could you withdraw your motion?

Mr Callahan: I'll withdraw my motion.

The Chair: Mr Duignan, could you make your new motion, please?

Mr Duignan: I move a motion that we ask the presenters, the CUPE local -- I don't know what local it is -- to appear here in front of the committee to answer questions by the committee in relation to the findings of the auditor into its allegations.

The Chair: All in favour? Opposed? Carried.

Mr Grandmaître, you have your chance now.

Mr Grandmaître: I am totally satisfied.

The Chair: We'll have to find an appropriate date. We'll let the committee know.

Mr Callahan: Do we have unanimous consent for that or are we voting on it, Mr Chair?

The Chair: We already voted and it carried. I thought I saw your elbow go up. I counted you in the affirmative.

Item 2 on the agenda, discussion of the Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committees Conference: I need a subcommittee to work with myself and the clerk to put this together. I need one member from each party. Can I have volunteers? Mr Duignan.

Mr Duignan: I'll volunteer, Mr Chair.

The Chair: You're volunteering for the government.

Mr Callahan: What's the date of it?

The Chair: That's what the subcommittee is going to do. Mr Tilson, are you volunteering for the Progressive Conservatives?

Mr Tilson: Either I or Mr Cousens will volunteer.

The Chair: Either Mr Tilson or Mr Cousens. When can we know so we can instruct --

Mr Tilson: In the very near future.

The Chair: Thank you for your help. Who's volunteering for the opposition?

Mr Grandmaître: I think Mr Callahan.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Callahan. So the subcommittee to structure this conference is Mr Callahan, Mr Duignan, myself, the clerk, and Mr Tilson will let us know within 48 hours if it's going to be him or Mr Cousens.

Item 3: Does everyone have this document, the Canadian Comprehensive Audit Foundation 13th Annual Conference, Toronto, November 22 to 24? Does anyone wish to attend?

Mr Duignan: Yes.

The Chair: Anyone wishing to attend, would you please notify the clerk.

Clerk of the Committee: Fill in the registration.

The Chair: Mr Tilson, you'll let Mr Cousens know about this?

Mr Tilson: I certainly will, Mr Chairman.

The Chair: Mr Callahan, you'll let your colleagues know about this and if they wish to attend we need --

Mr Callahan: What colleagues?

The Chair: Mr Grandmaître --

Mr Callahan: Who's on this committee, anyway?

Mr Johnson: Is it within our budget, Mr Chair?

The Chair: Oh, yes.

Mr Callahan: I take that back. I know who's on the committee and I will let them know.

The Chair: Okay. Any new discussion?

[Failure of sound system]

The Chair: This is just to remind the committee members that next Thursday we have the assistant Deputy Minister of Health and the Deputy Minister of Health coming in to discuss the auditor's report and the many questions you members have raised over the course of these hearings.

Having no further business, this committee stands adjourned until next Thursday morning at 10 am.

The committee adjourned at 1139.