Yes Virgina there is a Santa Claus.
Believe it or not, a political appointee in Ontario is putting taxpayers ahead of his personal financial gain — eHealth CEO Greg Reed is refusing an $81,250 bonus that he was contractually entitled to.
Reports surfaced over the weekend that Reed, the man brought in to lead eHealth following a scandal that rocked the Liberal government, received a bonus this year of about 25 per cent on top of his $329,000 annual salary.
To the chagrin of the opposition parties, news of Reed's bonus came at the same time employees of eHealth were involved in a class-action lawsuit to recover bonuses promised to them by the Liberal government, which now wants a two-year wage freeze across the public sector.
But on Monday afternoon, according to the Toronto Star, Reed returned the money.
Ray Hession, chair of the eHealth board of directors, said this was the second year Reed refused a bonus.
"In fulfillment of our contract with him, the bonus awarded Mr. Reed was determined by the eHealth Ontario Board of Directors with my full support and approval in recognition of the outstanding leadership he has provided to the agency over the past year," Hession wrote in a statement.
"This is the second consecutive year that Mr. Reed has declined his performance pay. I would like to take the opportunity to state emphatically that he continues to enjoy the full trust and confidence of the eHealth Ontario Board of Directors."
Reed's refusal to take his bonus is not only a good news for taxpayers' but good news for the Dalton McGuinty government, ahead of two September 6 byelections that can give them a majority at Queen's Park.
Recent revelations about mismanagement at the air ambulance service ORNGE, the $180-million price tag to cancel a Mississauga power plant and a fractious teacher's dispute have the Liberals already slipping in the polls.
I'm sure McGuinty has already sent Reed a 'thank-you' note for helping him avoid another controversy.
And, on behalf of the taxpayers, thank you Mr. Reed!