TORONTO - The value of untendered contracts handed out by eHealth Ontario is nearly double what was previously reported, with the opposition parties expressing concerns Tuesday that the bulk of the work went to a firm with ties to the Liberal government.

The CEO and chair of the eHealth both resigned in June after it was learned the provincial agency had given out about $5 million in consulting contracts without competitive bidding, which was allowed under the government's procurement rules at the time.

However, eHealth confirmed Tuesday that one of those consultants, Courtyard Group, secured another contract in April worth $8.5 million -- about half of which the agency said was untendered.

Some of the Courtyard contract involved work at the Ministry of Health and at Smart Systems for Health, the precursor to eHealth that was merged into the new agency, said eHealth spokeswoman Deanna Allen.

"The Courtyard work that was done within the eHealth program (at the Ministry of Health) was competitively procured," said Allen.

"That work was transitioned over to eHealth Ontario . . . so I don't know whether it would be a single-source or competitively procured where it originated."

Premier Dalton McGuinty has apologized for the spending and expense abuse scandal at eHealth, and changed procurement rules for all ministries and agencies to require competitive bidding.

"There are far more exceptions than ever before," complained NDP critic Peter Kormos about the new procurement rules.

The New Democrats called on the Auditor General to investigate links between Courtyard and the Liberal government, noting the company's founder, John Ronson, was a Liberal insider and chair of the party's 1995 election campaign.

"Courtyard Group has been at the centre of many of the allegations involving eHealth Ontario," NDP Leader Andrea Horwath wrote in a letter to Auditor General James McCarter.

"I am asking you to launch an immediate investigation into any and all contracts between government ministries and agencies and Courtyard."

Kormos said "it's obvious" that Courtyard has a cozy relationship with McGuinty and the Liberal government.

"The only inference that any fair-minded person can reach is that there's a complex, tight relationship between Courtyard, it's leadership and members of the Liberal party and the Liberal government," he said.

"There's no other rationale for the types of contracts that Courtyard has received at a huge, huge cost to taxpayers."

Courtyard has also received contracts from the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities, and Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak predicted more dealings between the government and the consulting agency would be revealed.

"I think when it comes to the McGuinty government handing out contracts to Liberally connected consulting firms, we've just seen the tip of the iceberg," said Hudak.

The Tories and New Democrats are still upset with the government for quietly cancelling a third-party review of eHealth Ontario, which Health Minister David Caplan had promised would "provide us with the proper advice, guidance and recommendations."

The opposition parties say Caplan should either resign or be fired for his handling of the eHealth scandal, which also saw consultants who were being paid $2,700 a day billing taxpayers extra for snacks and beverages.

EHealth Ontario was set up last September to replace another provincial agency which had spent $650 million trying to create electronic health records but produced virtually nothing of value.