The Inside Agenda Blog

Inside Ontario: The Auditor General's eHealth Report, and More

by Mark Brosens Monday October 12, 2009

Welcome back to the Inside Ontario blog, where we recap Ontario's top news stories!






This week we will look at: the Auditor General’s eHealth Report; the federal government’s decision to eliminate prison farms; Ontario’s performance in the Times-QS Top 200 World Universities rankings; unemployment in Windsor; and how Ontario’s farms grow junk food.








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On Wednesday, Auditor General Jim McCarter released his report on eHealth Ontario. The report says that the provincial government spent one billion dollars trying to create an electronic health records system, but received little value for that money. Perhaps the most troubling aspect of McCarter’s report was his allegations of being initially blocked from investigating eHealth Ontario by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.


On Tuesday evening, news broke that David Caplan had resigned as the Minister of Health and Long Term Care. Deb Mathews was announced as Caplan’s replacement the following day.


Steve Paikin noted that Caplan taking the blame for eHealth was not entirely fair and Adam Radwanski commented that Deb Matthews now has “the job from hell.”


On the day that the eHealth report was released, The Agenda interviewed Michael Decter, current eHealth board member and former Deputy Minister of Health. You can watch Decter’s reaction to the Auditor General’s report below.










Meanwhile, Ontarians could still benefit from an electronic health records system. On Friday, McMaster University announced it could equip Ontario’s 8,000 family doctors with a web-based, open-source electronic health records system in 24 months for less than $20 million. The provincial government promptly rejected McMaster’s offer, saying it must respect doctors’ ability to choose a particular electronic health records system.




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CBC Radio’s, The Current, hosted a discussion on the federal government’s decision to close prison farms in Ontario, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia. The federal government argues that few released prisoners obtain employment in the agricultural sector. Critics of the government’s decision argue that prison farms provide a therapeutic experience while teaching universally applicable job skills.



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Ontario’s universities had an impressive showing in the influential Times-QS Top 200 World Universities rankings. Five Ontario universities were included in the Top 200 (they are, by ranking: University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, Queen’s University, McMaster University, and University of Western Ontario). The University of Waterloo had the largest ranking increase among the Ontarian universities, moving up to number 113 (a 16 spot improvement over their 129 ranking in 2008).



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At 14.4 per cent, Windsor has the highest unemployment rate of Canada’s census metropolitan areas, according to a study by Statistics Canada. This compares to a 10.5 per cent unemployment rate in Sudbury, a 5.8 per cent unemployment rate in Ottawa, and a national rate of 8.4 per cent.



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Margaret Webb of the Toronto Star examined how the corn and soybean crops of Ontario’s farms are being used to make junk food. Webb argues that Ontario’s agricultural sector is being driven to lower crop prices, increase crop yields, and use environmentally unsustainable practices.


The Agenda just completed a week of programs on food. Below you can watch an interview with former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler on why we cannot stop eating (and why we eat so much junk food):




You can view the rest of The Agenda’s food programs here.



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If you are a fan of Question Period at Queen’s Park, visit the Question Period Archive on TVO’s Civics 101 microsite. And for a 30-minute video digest of last week’s Question Period sessions, watch Queen’s Park This Week.