Imposed salary cap, hey we can dance around that

city_scope_logo-cmykNo disrespect to the hospital’s vice-president, but you can bet Nancy Whitmore was anything but the first choice to replace out-going president and CEO Paul Collins who exits on Oct. 31.

Whitmore will take over the helm in November, but the hospital board of directors did not hire healthcare recruitment firm The MedFall Group only to have them say look from within.

Back in March of this year we talked to board chair Melanie Taylor who asserted the hunt for a new president and CEO would be far-reaching.

“We’re looking to retain the best possible talent who could come from someplace other than southwestern Ontario,” advised Taylor.

And yet here we are with the new hand at the helm coming from down the hall.

Well, that’s because, plain and simple, the board and MedFall couldn’t find anyone to come here for $205,569 a year – Collins’ salary at the present time.

Dr. Nancy Whitmore

Dr. Nancy Whitmore

That’s the ceiling imposed on designated executives and office holders who earn $100,000 or more per year at hospitals, universities, colleges and school boards. It’s been in effect since 2010 as per the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act.

If you remember, Coun. Linda Stevenson – the city’s representative on the board of governors – tendered her resignation over allegations Taylor was attempting to circumvent that salary cap in order to make the position more “competitive.”

Hospital administration wouldn’t let us talk to Taylor about those allegations. Instead we were in receipt of a carefully crafted statement from Cathy Crane, vice-chair, on behalf of the STEGH board of governors.

“The Selection Committee is well aware of the Executive Compensation freeze under the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act and this has been well communicated to the Board,” Crane advised in her communication.

“The Selection Committee is at a critical point in the CEO recruitment process and has followed due process with guidance from both a highly reputable recruitment firm and legal counsel.”

So due process was followed in the promotion of Whitmore to president and CEO.

Yeah, with the help of an end run around that imposed salary cap.

Absolutely, Whitmore will be limited to $205,569 per year . . . for a potential four-day work week.

You see the contract allows her “to continue her clinical duties to a maximum of one day per week and such clinical duties are compensated through the Ontario Health Insurance Plan,” points out Strategic Communications and Stakeholder Relations Lead Nancy Lawrence in a release this week.

And you thought the Collins’ retire/rehire two-step was a nifty dance move.

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Closing the hospital labs? We’ll notify you about that later

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Here we are in to September already and you have to wonder where is the city’s audited financial report for 2015?

Nine months into the year and you would think this would have previously come before council. And while we’re at it, where’s the audited financial statement for St. Thomas Energy?

stthomasenergyjpgWe put those questions to the city’s director of finance, David Aristone.

“They’re tentatively to be released to council on Sept. 19,” Aristone advised.

“We’ve been waiting for some information that has to go in to it from Ascent. I think in July the (Ascent) financial statements were presented to their board and then I think they are presented to our council at a shareholder meeting on Sept. 12.”

Can’t help but feel the financial picture is not a pretty sight at Ascent. What are we looking at, long-term debt of $22 million and climbing?

And what about city council’s June 23 approval of a motion to start exploring merger opportunities for Ascent/St. Thomas Energy? We contacted the utility’s acting CEO Rob Kent on Friday but we did not hear from him.

Could be busy with those financial statements Aristone referred to.

Related posts:

Who is in the driver’s seat for St. Thomas Energy merger plan?

Interpreting Ascent deal through our ‘filters’

Sutherland stalling hits ratepayers in the pocket

Ascent sale is finalized, and now ratepayers are waiting for financial disclosure

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Is Ascent realignment sign of a turnaround at the St. Thomas utility?

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A couple of weeks back we wrote about John Moore over on Alma Street and the miserable summer he has endured thanks to the large tree he and his neighbours share.

John Moore treejpg

John Moore in front of the tree on Alma Street.

When he’s not picking up branches – and quite large ones at that – he’s dealing with the steady drizzle of sap coating any vehicle parked in the driveways.

He would love to have his driveway re-paved – now damaged due to roots emanating far and wide from the offending tree on city property – but that’s a no-go due to the expense of tearing them up.

He had a tree removal company offer an opinion. They referred to the tree as “filthy” and suggested the city really should remove it.

A stark contrast to the evaluation offered by Catharine Spratley, supervisor of parks and recreation, who advised him in an email “the city has a policy that only trees that are either dead, diseased or hazardous are removed to preserve the city’s urban forest. The 31-40-year-old Eastern Cottonwood in question does not meet the criteria for removal as it is in excellent condition.”

In frustration, John contacted the mayor’s office about the problem of sap staining his car and the brand new vehicle next door. Her response? Take it to a car detailing shop.

Ah, there’s the small matter of where the bill should be sent.


Is there a problem over on the fifth floor at the hospital? We’ve had several readers suggest we pop over and take a look. It’s got our curiosity now.

City Scope appears Saturday in the St. Thomas Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to

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