Pan Am Games execs expensed wine, shirts, parking tickets
5 years worth of expense claims released
Officials with the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games billed Ontario taxpayers for everything from dress shirts and parking tickets to orange juice and wine before reimbursing them, documents released Friday reveal.
The Toronto Pan Am committee released five years' worth of expense claims and credit card reports — about 5,000 pages of documents — to all media after a newspaper filed a freedom of information request.
TO2015 CEO Saad Rafi said the government had no say in the timing of the "document dump" on Friday, one day after the legislature recessed for two months.
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"We of course work with the government on all these matters," said Rafi. "In the past the expense claims for the organization garnered a lot of attention, so we wanted everybody to have that information at the same time."
The expense reports, which often do not include the name of the executive making the claim, show Pan Am officials frequently charged taxpayers for their coffee, bottled water and snacks. Some also put cash advances on government credit cards, at very high interest rates.
The inappropriate expenses, some going as far back as 2010, only turned up after the FOI request, and the reimbursements were made in recent weeks, said Rafi.
"I didn't know they existed," he said. "When I saw those things, I said you know what, that's not going to stand."
'Culture of entitlement'
The Progressive Conservatives said the Liberal government has clearly not been able to change the "culture of entitlement" at the Pan Am organizing committee.
Ontarians are footing the bill so Pan Am officials can go shopping at Harry Rosen.- NDP Pan Am critic Paul Miller
"If you're appointed to a committee by a Liberal, you can basically expense whatever you want, that's the message that I think the public is hearing now," said PC Pan Am critic Todd Smith. "The scandalous spending is continuing even after the new regime has been put in place."
The New Democrats said Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals appeared to have learned nothing from a similar scandal involving inappropriate expenditures at eHealth Ontario, which forced then-health minister David Caplan to resign.
"Ontarians are footing the bill so Pan Am officials can go shopping at Harry Rosen, the LCBO or the Beer Store," said NDP Pan Am critic Paul Miller. "For the Liberals, to wait until the day after the legislature rises makes a mockery of transparency and accountability. It's just absurd and manipulative."
Rafi, who took over the top spot last January, rejected Opposition claims that people working with the Pan Am committee have a huge sense of entitlement.
"I think what we're doing here is trying to instill a sense of responsibility that this is predominantly a taxpayer funded games and people have that obligation to the taxpayer," he said. "We are trying to continue with being open and transparent and make sure people follow the rules."
Over budget, behind schedule
It's not the first time expenses by the Pan Am executives have come under fire.
Former CEO Ian Troop, who was paid $477,000 a year, was criticized after he billed taxpayers 91 cents for parking, $1.89 for a cup of tea and $8,561.19 for a Mexican hotel and cocktail party.
The opposition parties also complained about a $7-million bonus package for TO2015 executives, including Troop, who would have been eligible for a $780,000 premium if he'd stayed and the Games came in on budget.
Ontario taxpayers already shelled out over a million dollars to fired Pan Am executives, including a year's pay and $27,300 in retirement benefits for Troop, who also got $10,000 in outplacement payments, $3,500 in legal fees and medical benefits of $15,800.
Former Pan Am vice-president of human resources, Elaine Roper, was paid $300,000 when she was let go, while Louise Lutgen got $271,000 after she was dismissed as the vice-president of cultural affairs.
The Progressive Conservatives said the latest round of expenses showed the Pan Am committee spent $5,800 on tickets to the PGA's golf championship, and $8,200 on tickets to Toronto Argonauts CFL games.
"TO 2015 is probably the perfect example where this type of behaviour has continued over a four-year period and doesn't seem to be stopping any time soon," said Smith.
Late last month, Ontario's auditor-general released the findings of an investigation that found the Pan Am Games security budget has more than doubled from the original estimate. The report also said that the procurement of security personnel is behind schedule.
The total budget for the Pan Am Games, which will be held July 10 to 26 in communities across southern Ontario next summer, is about $2.5 billion.
With files from CBC News