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More health mininster churn as Newfoundland's Wiseman swapped out

Ross Wiseman, the man who presided over the Newfoundland and Labrador health ministry during the Eastern Health regional authority's infamous cover-up of thousands of breast cancer hormone testing errors, has been removed from his post in Premier Danny Williams's latest cabinet shuffle.

Mr Wiseman will take over as minister of business for Paul Oram, who now becomes the province's new health minister.

Mr Wiseman, who served as parliamantary secretary for health from 2003 until his appointment as minister of health in 2007, was a frequent target of opposition politicians (who seldom let much time pass before renewing calls for his resignation) as well as many of the province's physicians, particularly specialists upset about the government's collective-agreement negotiating tactics over the last two years.

The new minister, Paul Oram (right), began his entrepreneurial career in construction and funeral homes. He's already been accused of having a conflict of interests in his new role as minister of health, because he owns part of two personal care homes in Newfoundland.

This year has seen a great deal of what is sometimes called "ministerial churn" among health ministers across the country. The churn really began late last year when the federal government named a new cabinet after October's election, replacing Tony Clement with Leona Aglukkaq. Since then, there have been health minister changes in New Brunswick (Mike Murphy out, Mary Schryer in), British Columbia (George Abbott out, Kevin Falcon in), Nova Scotia (Karen Casey out, Maureen MacDonald in), and now in Newfoundland and Labrador.

There could be more churn yet. It seemed likely a couple of months ago that Ontario's David Caplan would be on his way out as details emerged about eHealth Ontario consulting contracts that were given without open bidding. Premier Dalton McGuinty has stood by his man so far, however.

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  1. sharon15 July, 2009 8:29 AM

    Paul Oram as health minister...... and he owns private health business with clients dependent upon government funds........

    ............. a conflict of interest !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Sam Solomon15 July, 2009 11:20 AM

    This reminds me of a similar recent kerfuffle in which Tony Clement, after being appointed federal health minister in 2006, revealed that he owned stock in a Toronto-area pharma company. Ethics rules required him to avoid discussion or decisions pertaining to that company, but permitted him to hold on to his stock. He ended up getting rid of his share a couple of years later.

    So I suppose the question is: can Paul Oram keep his share of ownership in the personal care homes and avoid a conflict of interests by recusing himself from personal-care decision-making, or should he be forced to sell? An important consideration is the kind of precedent that is set by forbidding cabinet ministers from benefiting from businesses they helped build. As it stands, parliamentarians earn relatively little compared to what many of our representatives earned as CEOs and corporate directors. Will tighter restrictions on politicians' business dealings discourage some otherwise very qualified people from working in government? For instance, Paul Martin and Belinda Stronach managed for the most part to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interests, no?

  3. sharon16 July, 2009 1:37 AM


    your comments are thought provoking...

    For myself, because the provincial power structures involved in the distribution of "care" dollars are so" fixed" ( yes...both meanings)... I would like to see a clear statement that the "care" dollars for vulnerable peoples will be of Federal jurisdiction...with domiciling under municipal.

    That will rapidly skim off the dross and also prevent an emerging migration of rural -to- urban oldsters.

    We already have people moving to ensure access to some urban creative housing/care options for Seniors.

    We need homogeneity and it cannot be assured or insured properly in the current service structure.

    A very central "coordination" with a profound decentralised connection of "service delivery" needs to bypass the entrenched/retrenched middlemen bloated from copious feeding at government troughs.

    Acadaemia is leading incentives that ensure the community service connection is safe and seamless ..but they lack the drive/vision to capture the exponential strength of technical coordination of same.

    Private sector is predatory. Period. There has to be a "yoke" binding these two oxen that makes them pull together.

    That yoke is to reignite the reminder that " home care" is historically under Federal jurisdiction.

    Throw the rest to municipal coffers and redefine distribution of monies to MUSH sectors.