Ont. medical records might not be online by 2015
GUELPH, Ont. - It's no longer certain whether health records will be online in Ontario by the deadline of 2015, Premier Dalton McGuinty said Wednesday.
McGuinty has asked new Health Minister Deb Matthews to take a "long, hard, cold, analytical look" at where things are at with electronic health records and to be honest about timelines.
Matthews, McGuinty said, must "take into account the auditor's impartial advice, take into account what we've been able to do ... and let's be honest with ourselves and with Ontarians about our capacity to get that 2015 target."
The government is currently working to implement the recommendations of a scathing auditor general's report on eHealth.
The report said $1 billion was poured into an electronic health-record system that's years away from completion and allowed consultants to run amok with little oversight while millions of dollars in untendered contracts went out the door.
EHealth was set up last year to create electronic health records after the first provincial agency given that task, Smart Systems for Health, spent $650 million but failed to produce anything of lasting value before it was quietly shut down last September.
Matthews, who took over from David Caplan after he resigned ahead of the report, has yet to provide her answer, and was told to take all the time she needs, McGuinty said.
The premier added he wasn't necessarily looking to slow the process; he just didn't want any more waste of taxpayers dollars stemming from hastiness.
"We want to move as quickly as we can, but not so quickly that we make mistakes that are costly to taxpayers," McGuinty said.
NDP health critic France Gelinas said she saw no reason for a delay, adding that people deserve electronic health records to come online by the deadline.
"If the government makes this a priority, we have here in Ontario what it takes to succeed," she said.
"It needs a little bit of political will on the part of the government, and it takes good project management at the ministry level, which has been sorely lacking."
The Opposition has called for a public inquiry into whether eHealth Ontario broke the law in awarding of millions of dollars in untendered contracts to what they call Liberal-friendly firms -- a request that was flatly rejected Tuesday by McGuinty.