Ryerson University paid $159,000 to "special adviser"

Former health minister in the spotlight again

Former Ontario deputy premier and failed Toronto mayoralty candidate George Smitherman made $158,833.32 as a “special adviser” to the president of Ryerson University last year, reports the Toronto Star. Adam Kahan, a Ryerson vice-president, told the newspaper that Smitherman’s work included introducing university officials to “senior decision makers in various industries.”

Smitherman, the Liberal Minister of Health from 2003 to 2008, became well-known after dogged criticism of his management of eHealth Ontario. Auditor General Jim McCarter said in 2009 that the province had wasted $1-billion on the eHealth agency over the previous decade. When the report was released, the leaders of both opposition parties asked for Smitherman’s resignation.

Smitherman also faced criticism for his oversight of the Orgne air ambulance service, whose former CEO Chis Mazza is currently being investigated by Ontario Provincial Police. Ontario Auditor General Jim McCarter said earlier this month that tens of millions of dollars was wasted and patient safety was potentially at risk due to the province’s weak performance agreement with Ornge.

Smitherman deflected criticism by the Public Accounts committee following that report. “I think some people in the ministry who woke up every morning with the responsibility to manage this file may have some responsibility for the way it all turned out,” he said, reported The Toronto Sun.

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