Ombudsman André Marin demands more powers to prevent another ORNGE

By Tanya Talaga and Robert Benzie: Queen’s Park Bureau. Read the original article at The Star

Ontario’s watchdog says if he had the power to investigate ORNGE tips from whistleblowers and insiders, he might have been able to rein in the scandalized air ambulance agency sooner.

Ombudsman André Marin used the release of his annual report Tuesday to urge the government to give his office oversight powers in municipalities, universities, school boards and hospitals.

Last year, Marin received 18,541 complaints — up 27 per cent from 2010-11 — but was not able to investigate a record 2,539 related to the so-called MUSH sector because such institutions fall beyond his jurisdiction.

Flanked by a poster depicting a hospital as a castle surrounded by barbed wire as a citizen looks powerlessly in while an air ambulance lands, the ombudsman said something has to change.

“Hospitals remain barred from my oversight like some kind of medieval fortress — as do the ORNGE helicopters that land there,” he said.

But Marin is optimistic Premier Dalton McGuinty is finally listening after the ORNGE scandal, which was sparked by a Toronto Star investigation.