Ontario's health minister is coming under fire for bringing up the deadly Via train derailment when responding to tough questions about the scandal engulfing Ornge.

The NDP says it was inappropriate for Deb Matthews to bring up the tragedy after being asked in the legislature about the scandal engulfing the troubled air ambulance service.

Both Premier Dalton McGuinty and Matthews talked about the agency's role in responding to the crash before answering questions about Ornge.

The remarks came just a few days after the minister acknowledged several service disruptions at Ornge, which is currently under a criminal probe.

Matthews defended herself outside the chamber, saying she just wanted to show her gratitude to all the front-line workers who helped in Sunday's rescue effort.

But NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says the minister shouldn't be using the tragedy, which killed three Via engineers, to try to avoid answering questions about Ornge.