eHealth staff get bonuses, merit pay
Loophole in wage freeze legislation
The provincial government is coming under fire after it emerged that many staff at eHealth Ontario are getting bonuses and merit pay despite a vow to cut public sector costs.
The electronic health records agency is giving hundreds of staff 1.9 per cent merit raises and bonuses of 7.8 per cent, despite the government's two-year wage freeze for about one million public sector workers, eHealth confirmed on Tuesday.
The revelations prompted Health Minister Deb Matthews to demand an emergency meeting Wednesday morning with the chair of the board of the agency, which was embroiled in controversy two years ago over untendered contracts and lavish expenses.
The news did not sit well with Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak.
"What kind of planet do you call home now that you think this makes any kind of sense whatsoever. This is an extraordinary abuse of tax dollars," he said Wednesday.
Government Services Minister Harinder Takhar was left to defend the increases, saying the government hasn't broken any rules.
The government has implemented a pay freeze on public servants, but as CBC News reported first last year, its own legislation allows for merit pay and bonuses.
"We expect all agencies, including eHealth, to actually abide by the rules and regulations that we have put in place," Takhar said.
The New Democrats also lashed out at the Liberals for freezing the wages of frontline health-care workers such as nurses while giving eHealth bureaucrats big raises.
With files from The Canadian Press