We shake our heads when we hear about questionable spending by the public sector using taxpayers hard earned dollars. It’s even more frustrating when the dollars that are meant to increase front line service get eaten up in administration. I am here to add to the examples. There has been a great cry for more funds in community health to provide services to those who need care and services in their home to enable them to live safely. In October 2012 the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) gushed its thanks to the Minister of Health and the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) for the extra millions in funds transferred to it. The LHIN had received funds from the Ministry, then transferred $8 million to the CCAC. The CCAC then transferred some of the funds to agencies to provide services like in home nursing, physiotherapy, meals, and adult care programs. Services that are in short supply but are desperately needed day to day life services for vulnerable people. Did you notice the number of times that the funds went through a transfer.

Provincial government to the LHIN; LHIN to the CCAC; CCAC to organizations like St. Elizabeth Nursing, Red Cross, Meals on Wheels, the Alzheimers Society. Count the administration dollars being eaten up in these transfers – before dollar one gets to the service provider. Let’s take a look at how some of those dollars were spent by the CCAC, specifically compensation for the executive. By the way, this agency includes accountability and fairness in its values. A point of self-disclosure – I was on the Board for the CCAC for 16 months from late 2009 to end of 2010. According to the “sunshine list” the CEO for the CCAC earned $181,000 in salary and benefits in 2007. By 2012 that CEO earned $275,000 in salary and benefits – a whopping increase of 52%. Interesting – the next highest paid senior staff in the agency earns $160,000 – $115,000 less than the CEO. The CEO is earning 70% more than her direct report.

Does the CEO actually work that much harder or have that much more responsibility than the Vice President of Clinical Operations – the very person who is overseeing the staff in deciding what services a vulnerable resident receives. Adding insult – the vice president of clinical operations saw her compensation increase from 2% over the period 2007 to 2012. A far cry from the 52% increase enjoyed by the CEO. The CEO’s increase over that period was $94,000 while the next in line received $3,000. Remember the times when the honourable and ethical approach was that the person at the top did not get if their staff were not getting. How do you develop and encourage team work when there is such an incredible indifference to the majority of the team? Accountability and fairness? Don’t think so. It has been suggested that the compensation of the CEO of the CCAC should be equal to a CEO in a hospital. That’s apples to oranges. Just because the CCAC and the hospital are both in the health sector does not make the CEO jobs equal. The complexity, differences in specializations within a hospital, the actual hands on activity at hospitals are not the same as the agency that is purchasing services from other agencies. The hospital receives money from the LHIN and provides complex service – its focus is not processing paper to move the money to other agencies. The compensation for the CEO at Joseph Brant Hospital in 2012 was 6% more than the 2007 CEO compensation.

By the way, the compensation for the CEO at the LHIN, which transfers the money to the CCAC, was slightly less (yes, less) than the 2007 compensation – granted a new person as the CEO but the compensation was held in check. Looks like some Boards got the message on use and accountability of funds. You can already guess what the communications spin is going to include. Comments like the CEO at the CCAC was underpaid in 2007. Really? In the past couple of years there were to be 0% increases in public sector salaries. Is it fair, that in light of the demand for more services in the home, indeed with some of that demand coming from the CCAC, that the Board is creaming so much off the top for its CEO? Imagine how many hours of inhome nursing, or meals on wheels could be purchased with those extra thousands of dollars given to the CEO. Just askin’.

Fay Booker

Providing a Fresh Perspective for Burlington and Hamilton.

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