Ontario’s chief coroner, Dr. James Young, resigned this week.
Dr. Young was not doing his work. He was not actively overseeing the operations of the office. He had a Deputy coroner, Dr. Jim Cairns, who also was not actively supervising the various cases involving serious allegations, people being accused of murder and spending time in jail. Dr. Charles Smith, was the person actually doing the work.
The problem is that Dr. Smith was doing sloppy work to say the least. The misconduct lasted over a decade, until last Monday, when the crisis exploded in the face of the Ontario government. Dr. Young resigned, will not practice medicine again and will probably face more charges. Dr. Cairns is also facing charges. Dr. Smith has been exposed.
Would such a situation be allowed to develop in private industry? Could a person in charge of a company operation, and a manager reporting to him be allowed to draw salaries for over a decade without performing real work?
A private company would make sure that a person does work appropriate with his experience.
In the public sector however, things work differently.
In 2005 Dr. Young had reached the pinnacle of his 23 year career in public service. As Ontario’s chief coroner during 9/11, the SARS crisis, and other widely advertized events, he received the province’s highest honour: the Order of Ontario.
As incoming president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, he was a respected figure in the international forensic scene.
Now that the many serious mistakes of the Office have been revealed, causing wrongful convictions, separations of families and a tragic series of incompetent decisions, with people seeking compensations for millions of dollars, what does the government do?
As Dr. Young resigned, Ontario’s government announced the formation of an “Oversight council” and a “Complaints committee.”
This is indicative of how people who trust the public sector think: The government chose to add more “overseers” (at our expense) instead of hiring the right people for the job.
We know that more than 5000 people are appointed by the Premier of Ontario for such posts and we know that most are political appointments.
How can we be so naive to expect these government appointees to do real work?