Scandal threatens major Canadian EMR project

A contracting and spending scandal has cost the head of a Canadian agency her job and delayed plans to provide interoperable electronic health records to all residents of the province of Ontario. The political fallout may just be starting, though.

The board of eHealth Ontario, the fledgling agency charged with developing a comprehensive provincial EHR by 2015, fired CEO Sarah Kramer over the weekend after news broke that she signed off on millions of dollars in no-bid contracts, approved a long list of questionable expenses and took a six-figure bonus from taxpayers after just five months on the job. The firing came with a severance of $317,000 Canadian (that's about $285,000 in good, old American greenbacks).

Critics and political opponents now are calling for Ontario's health minister to resign, and are questioning the make-up of eHealth Ontario's board. "I've described them as an incestuous little gang, and there's no way that they can hold each other accountable," the leader of an opposition party said.

For details on this brewing scandal north of the border:
- see this report from CBC News
- read this impassioned defense of Kramer in The Globe and Mail (Toronto)