Consultant leaves eHealth for 'personal reasons'
Another eHealth Ontario consultant has departed, one who billed $2,700 per day for her time -- and charged taxpayers for tea and Choco Bites.
"I billed what the policy told me I could do," Donna Strating told the Toronto Star.
"I didn't expense, you know, thousands of lavish meals and I, unfortunately, happen to like muffins and chocolate chip cookies. And so I bought those ... instead of sitting down at a full-course meal and dining."
An eHealth spokesperson told CTV Toronto that before Strating left, she reimbursed the agency for $425 in miscellaneous expenses she thought taxpayers might consider questionable.
Strating, who resides in Alberta, started work with eHealth in December. She had been negotiating to join the agency full time before the current uproar over spending on expenses and untendered contracts broke out.
She said she stepped down for "personal reasons" and plans to retire to her country property outside Edmonton where she will raise horses.
However, she suggested that the controversy swirling around eHealth might have made it impossible to continue.
"I needed to consider that, regardless of what they proposed to me, could I rebuild or feel that the credibility existed, quite honestly. Or would the press take one more stab at it and try and discredit any decision I made except, quite honestly, working for free," Strating said.
"And so my decision was I have a personal life and a husband and a future and I guess I'll go back to that if it's not respected what I did here,"
Last Sunday former eHealth CEO Sarah Kramer left the agency by mutual agreement, accepting a $317,000 severance package.
Kramer had come under fire for the awarding of about $5 million in untendered contracts.
The opposition has alleged the work went to Liberal-friendly firms. Others claim Kramer hired her friends, but Kramer's defenders note the world of electronic medical records experts is a small one.
The provincial auditor-general and an outside consulting firm plan to review spending and procurement practices at eHealth Ontario.
However, the government has previously said no rules were broken and that the arm's-length agency had been given permission to issue untendered contracts to speed things up.
Ontario has become a laggard in developing a networked system of online medical records.
The first agency to take on the task, Smart Systems for Health Agency, spent about $650 million over five years but accomplished little.
The government unveiled eHealth in the fall of 2008 with a goal of have an electronic records system operational by 2015.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Michelle Dube and files from The Canadian Press