ORNGE CEO Chris Mazza’s $10 million life insurance policy cost taxpayers $28,000
According to the Toronto Star, a $10 million life insurance policy on former ORNGE Chief Executive, Dr. Chris Maza, cost taxpayers only $28,000, but the beneficiary is still raising questions.
Many wonder why the policy was purchased in the first place and why the beneficiary was a now bankrupt, for-profit arm of ORNGE and not the air ambulance service, which is taxpayer-funded.
“Let’s say the guy would have died and $10 million goes to a for-profit company. What do they do with it? It doesn’t go to taxpayers,” Progressive Conservative MPP and leading critic of the ORNGE scandal, Frank Klees, told The Star.
Klees, along with The Star, uncovered the original ORNGE scandal when it was revealed that Mazza was receiving $1.4 million a year while remaining off the "sunshine list" of public employees earning over $100,000. That salary makes him the highest publicly paid official in the province. He also billed taxpayers for lavish "expenses," such as four nights at the Paris Four Seasons Hotel, with a rate showing $2,400 a night, $1.50 for a coffee or a cookie, $5.24 for an Internet connection at LaGuardia Airport in New York, and a $1,194 dinner at Via Allegro in Etobicoke on Boxing Day 2007.
The $28,000 payment for the life insurance policy was revealed after Klees raised alarm bells about an internal document that suggested it may have cost a one-time payment of $450,000. Payments on the policy to Sun Life Assurance Company ceased in 2011.
“The former leadership at ORNGE made the decision to obtain $10 million in life insurance coverage for Dr. Chris Mazza. It appears this was meant to cover him as key personnel within the organization,” ORNGE spokesperson James MacDonald wrote in an email to The Star.
“Given the beneficiary and the nature of the insurance, this was not going to benefit Dr. Mazza or his estate.”
However, it wasn’t the only life insurance ORNGE purchased for Mazza. The air ambulance service began paying $1,475 annually in 2005 for a “long term life insurance policy” at $1.5 million through Transamerica, which named the precursor to ORNGE, Ontario Air Ambulance, as a beneficiary. And $10,325 was paid on the policy before it was cancelled.
Currently, Mazza's questionable business deals are being investigated by Ontario Provincial Police.
OPP commissioner Chris Lewis appeared before the legislature’s public accounts committee — those tasked with the investigation — on March 20.