At the start of the session with George Smitherman we were saddened by the news that CEMA’s founder and long time president, "Ben" Benedito Viccari passed away that morning at the ripe age of ninety one.
"When the phone rang this morning, my heart stopped," said Madeline Ziniak, CEMA chair, Vice-President of OMNI-TV and Estonian Central Council Medal of Merit recipient.
As a professional politician, Smitherman managed to navigate the entire (almost) session without saying anything, commenting about his new child, his mother, his wife and vague promises about what he will do.
Then finally he he was asked the question that has been hanging around his neck. How can he justify having squandered a billion dollars on "e Health". This was the program of digitzing all of the physicians records. notes. The person asking the question was a Russian Publisher:
Q : Its about your involvement in the "e Health" project because we didn't get the money back and we didn't get the service and I want to decide if I can trust you with the city budget.
A : Its a question that I'm happy to talk about. For five years I was the Minister of Health in Ontario, and in that time I had a series of wait times responsibilities that governed 400,000 people each year, from hospitals to doctors and community facilities. In the time that I was Minister of Health wait times were reduced to the lowest surgical wait times in Canada, 1,800 more doctors came into service, 9,000 more nurses were hired and we made substantial improvements, but in the area of electronic health records this was not the area where the best results were achieved for people. E Health, actually as an organization, came after my time there. I was responsible for its predecessor called Smart Systems for Health and that time we spent a lot of resources building the infrastructure for electronic health but we did not produce the results for people where they need to feel it, at the patient level and I take responsibility for this. You have used the word like scandal. The Auditor General's report said that money was spent but the results were not as good as should be anticipated for the money that was spent, and I take responsibility for the portion that occured in the five years that I was the Minister of Health. I think that the broad record of my time there allowed my to be the longest serving Minister of Health in 25 years and many accomplishments occured but I have to agree with the assessment that in that area was not the effect of my best work.
Toronto Mayoral Candidate George Smitherman addresses Canadian Ethnic Media Association