Accountability and transparency — when mandated


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While this corner will continue to carefully scrutinize the wheeling and dealing of CEO Paul Collins and board chairman Bruce Babcock, we have nothing but praise for the doctors and staff at St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital.
With one exception — the dizzying diagnosis from the desk of Dr. Spin over in the hospital ivory tower.
It was contained in the preamble to a media release sent our way Tuesday disclosing the employment agreements for Collins from 2007 to the present, along with a bevy of executive expense reports and minutes of board meetings.
“We believe in transparency and accountability,” stresses Babock in the missive, “and to that end, we have posted a number of documents that may be of interest to our community.”
And, this has been done in proactive fashion.
Oh pul-eeeze.
Ever since City Scope exposed the resign/re-hire shuffle orchestrated by Collins and Babcock exactly one year ago, we have tried to pry loose this information “that may be of interest to our community.”

The only reason this material — accompanied by a dose of whitewash from Dr. Spin — is now available is due to the fact as of Jan. 1, Ontario hospitals are now subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), allowing the right of access to information that should be made public.
If the hospital believes in transparency and accountability, where was the evidence of proactivity last year?
In any event, let’s delve in to the two contracts dealing with the Collins’ two-step — the initial contract undertaken in June, 2010 when the sweetheart deal between the board of directors and Collins was first consummated, and the contract extension inked in October of 2011. The documents lay bare the dubious manner in which the retirement/rehiring was orchestrated.
Here are some of the highlights:
In fact, Collins did not retire in June of 2010. He tendered his resignation on June 30 of that year and was re-hired the very next day.
Specifically, the agreement states Collins “agrees to resign from his employment.”
And then, “The employer agrees to re-employ the Executive as President and Chief Executive as of July 1, 2010.”
The whole premise of retirement is nothing more than a smokescreen to cover what is clearly a case of double-dipping. After resigning, Collins returned with his full salary of $205,269 plus his pension.
In addition the hospital was willing to contribute to “an alternative retirement scheme,” the specific details of which would be determined jointly by Collins and the hospital.”
Collins, instead, chose not to invoke the specific clauses dealing with a retirement scheme.
The retirement smokescreen is reinforced in the preamble to the five-year contract extension signed Oct. 12, 2011, which states it puts in place “an agreement that will take the Executive (Collins) through to his retirement from his employment with the employer (in 2016).
So you see the retirement strategy is nothing more than a ruse to benefit Collins and not the hospital.
As to Babcock’s assertion to the Times-Journal at that time, “I have no idea what it (salary) will be in 2016 right now,” Collins’ base salary structure is clearly outlined in a table included in the contract extension,
In reality, Collins could earn a maximum of $321,950 in his final year before retirement in 2016.
Now you see why Babcock and the board of directors were so anxious to keep this sweetheart package out of sight and out of mind.
In the coming weeks, City Scope will delve into the expenses incurred by Collins and the board of directors over the past several years, which lays bare the sense of entitlement that pervades the inner sanctum.

LOOK WHO IS BACK
You read it in this space some years ago: former St. Thomas alderman Bill Aarts would build his retirement dream home in St. Thomas.
At the time of the 2006 municipal election, Aarts purchased a plot of land at 40909 Major Line, at Sunset Drive. This was necessary for the Southwold resident to meet the requirement to own property within the city in order to qualify as a municipal candidate.
You see his former office cubicle at an Elm Street address didn’t pass muster with the electoral powers-to-be.
Well, Aarts is now petitioning the city to provide water and sewer service to the Major Line location and 23 properties and 7 businesses in the area. The cost per hook-up would be approximately $10,000.
The work would involve a loop from the water supply in Southwold, the municipality in which Aarts launched an unsuccessful bid to unseat Mayor Jim McIntyre in 2010.
Aarts, in a letter to the city, writes he is willing to facilitate a temporary hook-up to the Southwold system. With this role as facilitator and his eventual move to St. Thomas, will Aarts then return to the world of politics?

POINT TO PONDER
Now that the city’s new transit operator, Voyageur, has the buses rolling, you have to wonder if the hand-off from previous provider, Aboutown, was a smooth transition.
Or, are there any skeletons waiting to be found in the closet?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“It’s a really tough time to lose a job because there aren’t a huge number that are being created at this point in time.”
Premier Dalton McGuinty states what’s patently obvious to anyone out of work, when asked to comment on the week-long Electro-Motive lock-out in London.

City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to: mccallum@stthomastimesjournal.com.

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One thought on “Accountability and transparency — when mandated

  1. The St. Thomas hospital is the laughing stock of the region. Compare the ratio of office staff and managers to patients here and at other hospitals! They have problems retaining nurses for a few reasons, including the extreme workload. The hospital refuses to use the decades old program that other hospitals use to assign the correct number of nurses based on workload. Management has created unsafe and unhealthy conditions for patients and staff. New grads don’t receive proper supervision or on-the-job training.

    Was the problem with the incompetant doctor brought to the hospital’s attention? If yes, why wasn’t something done sooner? If no, why not? The doctors in charge have a responsibility to report such problems to protect the public from further harm.

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