Ontario’s Official Opposition is asking the Auditor General to review a sole-source contract for the supply of vaccination clinics in the Greater Toronto Area following a report outlining donations to the ruling PC Party by members of the company’s board of directors.
The company, FH Health, announced a contract to operate 10 clinics in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area earlier this month.
Donations, first reported by Queen’s Park Todayare listed in the publicly available disclosures at Elections Ontario.
Elections Ontario records show FH President Melody Adhami-Dorrani made two donations totaling $3,300 to the PC Party in September 2021, the maximum allowable contribution. Three other company directors also made donations totaling $3,300 each in September.
In total, FH board members donated $13,200 to the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario in September, just months before the contract was announced.
The company told Queen’s Park Today that it has never asked or suggested anyone donate. Records also show that FH board members have made donations to the Ontario Liberal Party over the years.
CP24 contacted FH Health for comment, but did not immediately receive a response.
FH Health announced Jan. 9 that it will be offering COVID-19 vaccine injections in partnership with the government at 10 clinics in Brampton, Hamilton, Mississauga, Oakville, Pickering, Richmond Hill and Toronto, including one at the Toronto Zoo.
The decision to award a private company a contract for vaccination clinics in the GTHA was criticized by some doctors when it was announced, with some saying they could handle more appointments if they had the means.
In an email to CP24 on Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said the government decided to go with FH because they had already been successful in a previous process which was competitive, this bid to provide a mobile testing capability.
“As FH Health already had an existing relationship with Ontario Health to provide COVID-19 testing capacity, the Ministry of the Solicitor General entered into an emergency supply with FH Health to establish additional vaccination clinics – to urgently expedite reminders for education workers prior to the return of in-person learning – as they already had the physical capacity and health human resource supports in place,” the statement read.
However, this decision does not appear to have accelerated the vaccination program. Daily vaccinations in Ontario peaked before Christmas and have actually declined in recent weeks.
While only about 47.5% of Ontario’s eligible population received boosters, the number of daily vaccines has declined and the government has said demand for vaccine doses has declined.
The private clinics run by FH also appear to have been less successful than those run by the government. Some of the FH clinics reported that they were sometimes running on empty, seeing only about a third of the appointments they could manage.
In Toronto, public health officials said city-run clinics continue to operate at full capacity.
In one letter sent on Wednesday To Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysik, NDP MP Taras Natyshak said she was “deeply concerned” and wants her office to investigate the contract. It noted that its 2021 annual report found that many sole-source contracts “lack robust processes” to ensure appropriate use of funds and suffered from “vague reporting practices”.
“Given these previously noted serious concerns about government sole-source contracts, I ask your office to investigate the selection of this agreement with FH Health and how, exactly, Ontarians are responsible for the contract of another provider compatible with PCs. with no discernible history of vaccination during this complex and challenging time in the pandemic,” Natyshak wrote.
– With files by Beatrice Vaisman and Chris Herhalt