Ballem eHealth invoice: $3,000 per day, plus lunch

Post by Mike Klassen in

1 comment


Ballem invoice to eHealth: so what did Ontarians get for $30K?

A high-priced consultant gets hungry charging those hours to taxpayers, that's why eHealth Ontario kicked in a daily $35 per diem for Penny Ballem's lunch on top of her $3,000 daily fees.

A CityCaucus.com source has provided a copy of the invoice and a one-page proposal from Dr. Penny JD Ballem Inc. on the work she would undertake on a Diabetes strategy for eHealth Ontario. What the invoice shows is that Ms. Ballem bills by the hour (a law office charging these rates would typically bill by the 1/4 hour) and began working on October 30th. She of course began providing her services based upon a verbal agreement as a contract was never issued.

Along with her own "leadership" on developing the strategy, she offers the assistance of RPO Management Consultants. Ballem was listed as an RPO consultant on their website until CityCaucus.com pointed it out.

There are several days listed in Ballem's invoice where she bills only one hour. We don't know what she did during any of this time because, unlike most invoices, she lists no description of what work was done during these hours. We don't know if she worked the full hour, or took a ten minute phone call on those days.

It's interesting to note that Ms. Ballem crammed in her longest days just ahead of her appointment as Vancouver's City Manager. According to reports, Ballem had either been in discussion for months about taking Judy Rogers' job, or just happened to be available according to Mayor Robertson.

Along with nearly $30,000 of billable time, Ballem also files for reimbursement of $4,395.61 of expenses. $3,534.11 was for airfare, and $651.50 was for "ground transportation." We'll assume she didn't take the bus.

In the attached one-page proposal Ballem requests a "Daily Meal Allowance for time in Ontario." That allowance is $35 per day. Thirty-five bucks is hardly a lavish lunch expense, but you can easily get a nice chicken salad sandwich and mineral water for this kind of cash. The question that might be asked however, should someone who is billing $3,000 per day be asking taxpayers to kick in for her gnosh, too?

That daily food allowance could probably buy a few boxes of rubber gloves for an operating room, or cover a couple hours wages for hospital cleaning staff.

If Ms. Ballem had not taken her new $304,000 job at the City of Vancouver and had fulfilled the first "six month block" in her proposal, she may have ended up costing eHealth Ontario $180,000 at the rate she was burning through tax dollars.

CityCaucus.com has filed an FOI with eHealth Ontario's Freedom of Information and Privacy Office as to what exactly the organization got for their $30,000 payment. Stay tuned for more.

1 Comment

Let's just say this - I cannot remember ever being as blown-away disappointed in anyone, as I am with this news about Dr. Penny Ballem. In the 1970s/1980s, I worked on committees with Dr. Charlie Ballem and, from what I had heard, believed Dr. P was cut from the same cloth - a chip off the old block so to speak.
If there is no reasonable explanation for this level of billing (I cannot imagine what it would be) and/or for the apparent, stress apparent, conflicts of interest, then it will be difficult to have faith in either 'the system' or in any individual at play within it.

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