St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital was one of 14 hospitals which used taxpayer dollars to hire a lobbyist to get more money from the government.
Here’s more on the practice from the Toronto Sun …
Health Minister Deb Matthews said Tuesday she will introduce legislation to ban public institutions such as hospitals and universities from using tax dollars to hire consultants who lobby government for more tax dollars.
“There was a day when that’s how business got done,” she said. “We can’t afford that any more.”
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath identified 14 hospitals and nine universities and colleges that retained private lobbyists to approach the government.
“These public dollars should be going into front line services,” Horwath said.
QMI Agency revealed in August that deficit-plagued Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga was spending up to $50,000 on lobbyists in a bid to convince the provincial government to bankroll its expansion plans.
Matthews noted then she had a phone and any hospital CEO was free to use it instead of hiring outside lobbying help.
Training, Colleges and Universities Minister John Milloy had the same message Tuesday for post secondary institutions.
“They shouldn’t be spending public money to talk to me. My phone number is available to all of the presidents and their senior officials,” Milloy said.
York University, which the NDP says had three recent lobbying contacts worth a combined $491,500, is on the Ontario Lobbyists’ Registry seeking “general infrastructure advice” for the campus from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
Matthew’s legislation, which she hopes to introduce before Christmas, was announced just one day before an Ontario PC motion calling for the government to prohibit all hospitals, Local Health Integration Networks, Community Care Access Centres, Cancer Care Ontario, eHealth Ontario and other publicly-funded health care bodies from hiring consultants to lobby government officials, and to require all publicly-funded health care bodies to post travel and hospitality expenses publicly.
Matthew’s bill would amend the lobbyists’ registry to prevent private consultants from registering to lobby government on behalf of a publicly-funded institution, a government official said.
One lobbyist who recently spoke to QMI Agency on the condition of anonymity said consultants are professionals who provide a valuable service to public institutions, helping direct them through an often confusing bureaucratic process and allowing them to put their best case forward in a cost-effective way.
However, Matthews said she is determined all public dollars flow to front line health care, and lobbyists are not needed to apply for funding.