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EHealth Ontario is the agency tasked with facilitating the development of Ontario's proposed public Electronic Health Record system. Health Informatics in Canada is run provincially, with different provinces creating different systems, albeit sometimes under voluntary Pan-Canadian guidelines published by the federal body Canada Health Infoway. EHealth Ontario was created in September 2008 out of a merger between the Ontario Ministry of Health's electronic health program and the Smart Systems for Health Agency (SSHA), with a mandate to create electronic health records for all patients in the province by 2015. It has been plagued by delays and its CEO was fired over a multimillion-dollar contracts scandal in 2009.[1]

eHealth employs approximately 700 people[2]

Media Attention

In May 2009, there were opposition calls for Caplan's resignation after it was revealed that eHealth Ontario CEO Sarah Kramer had approved about $4.8 million in no-bid contracts during the first four months of the agency's operation, while also spending $50000 to refurnish her office, and paying consultants up to $300 an hour.[3]

Journalists have argued that Sarah Kramer received a “trial by media” and that the province of Ontario will be at a loss with her departure as delivery of eHealth initiatives will be slowed. Marcus Gee from the Globe and Mail writes, “what happened at eHealth may or may not qualify as scandalous. What happened to Ms. Kramer certainly does. This was media lynching. A good woman and a first-rate civil servant has been hounded from public life, and all of us will suffer for it.”[4]

Nine senior eHealth employees were fired, reportedly for challenging the agency's tendering practices. eHealth Ontario argued that the no-bid contracts were necessary due to the rapid transition process to eHealth from its predecessor Smart Systems for Health Agency, while Caplan defended Kramer's bonus as part of her move from another agency. The opposition argued that the McGuinty government spent five years and $647 million on the Smart Systems for Health Agency, which used 15 per cent of its $225-million annual budget on consultants despite employing 166 people with annual salaries exceeding $100000, before the project was shut down and restarted as eHealth Ontario.

In a public statement, Sarah Kramer argued that when she took over as CEO of eHealth Ontario that she “was charged with turning around a failing behemoth - SSHA - which had already run through more than $600 million dollars with hardly anything to show for it in terms of moving Ontario closer to the goal of eHealth, and modernizing and improving the quality and safety of health care for Ontarians.”[5]

Journalists and former health policy advisors have noted that this media attention detracts from the organization’s mandate and ability to deliver on much needed eHealth initiatives and healthcare reform in the province of Ontario. One past policy director for a former Ontario Minister of Health, argues that the attention generated by the media has exceeded its contribution. The former director argues that the public’s focus should be holding the government accountable for mitigating the problems that have resulted and demanding progress on eHealth.[6]

Andre Picard, a Canadian public health reporter argues the public’s focus should be on the delivery of electronic health records and not “disingenuous tsk-tsking about the hiring of consultants.” He writes, “the true scandal in Ontario is the utter failure of the Ministry of Health to create electronic health records, which will ultimately lead to better and more efficient patient care.”[7]

Picard argues that Ministry of Health bureaucrats are powerless when it comes to making real change in healthcare as their political boss’s only vision for health care is not irritating the public so they can be re-elected. The result is change and innovation can, seemingly, only come from independent agencies or outside consultants.[8]

Donna Kline earned about $192,000 in a five-month period. [9]

EHealth CEO Sarah Kramer was forced to resign on the weekend amid questions surrounding her $114,000 bonus. She received a $317,000 severance package with benefits for 10 months.[10]

Two inquiries were launched, but in August 2009 the independent review of eHealth Ontario had been dropped, with Caplan saying it would duplicate the work of Ontario's auditor general.[11]

On October 6, 2009, Ontario's health Minister David Caplan has resigned, one day before the release of the report into spending scandals.[12]

Other systems

In Alberta, Alberta Netcare was created in 2003. Today the netCARE portal is used daily by thousands of clinicians. It provides access to demographic data, prescribed/dispensed drugs, known allergies/intolerances, immunizations, laboratory test results, diagnostic imaging reports, the diabetes registry and other medical reports. netCARE interface capabilities are being included in electronic medical record products which are being funded by the provincial government.


  1. ^ "Head of eHealth Ontario is fired amid contracts scandal, gets big package". Retrieved 2009-08-26.  
  2. ^ "eHealthStrategy". Retrieved 2009-08-26.  
  3. ^ "ehealth-mcguinty-review". Retrieved 2009-08-26.  
  4. ^ "Scandal or not, there's no justice in Sarah Kramer's trial by media". Retrieved 2009-08-27.  
  5. ^ "Statement by Sarah Kramer (CNW)". Retrieved 2009-08-27.  
  6. ^ "Critics' scrutiny of eHealth needs new focus". Retrieved 2009-08-27.  
  7. ^ "The real eHealth Ontario scandal isn't over Choco Bites". Retrieved 2009-08-27.  
  8. ^ "The real eHealth Ontario scandal isn't over Choco Bites". Retrieved 2009-08-27.  
  9. ^ "Another untendered contract surfaces at embattled eHealth Ontario". Retrieved 2009-08-26.  
  10. ^ "eHealth scandal reaches Premier's inner circle". Retrieved 2009-08-26.  
  11. ^ "McGuinty quietly drops eHealth review". Retrieved 2009-08-26.  
  12. ^ "Ontario health minister resigns". Retrieved 2009-10-06.  


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