TORONTO – The decision to fire the head of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games organizing committee last month will cost Ontario taxpayers more than half a million dollars.
The committee said Friday that Ian Troop will get a cash payment of $478,200 plus $27,300 in retirement benefits, $10,000 in “outplacement payments,” $3,500 in legal fees and medical benefits of $15,800.
“We have reached a severance agreement with Mr. Troop that satisfies both parties,” said TO2015 spokesman Courtney Pratt in a statement.
Pan Am board chair David Peterson said the severance package would not add to the budget for the Games, which he put at $1.4 billion, even though officials admit it’s closer to $2.5 billion when the cost of building the athletes’ village is included.
“The costs arising from this agreement will be absorbed into the Games’ overall budget,” Peterson said.
Tourism and Sport Minister Michael Chan also said taxpayers would not face any additional costs from the decision to fire Troop and pay him out.
“I understand the settlement follows the terms laid out in Mr. Troop’s employment contract,” Chan said. “These costs remain within TO2015′s $1.4-billion budget, and are therefore not an additional burden to taxpayers.”
However, the Progressive Conservatives again demanded Chan’s head, saying he’s the minister responsible for the Pan Am Games and should “take a little responsibility” and resign.
“It’s another added cost to the Pan Am Games for Liberals making poor decisions in the first place, and then having to pay taxpayers’ money to get out of it,” PC Pan Am critic Rod Jackson said in an interview.
“I don’t think they have any room to absorb anything at this point.”
The New Democrats criticized the Liberals for “handing out Olympic-sized payday” to Troop.
“Instead of taking simple measures to get waste under control like capping CEO salaries and banning big bonuses, we see the same-old Liberals showing the same-old contempt for public money,” said NDP critic Paul Miller.
Peterson, a former Liberal premier of Ontario, said in December that it was his decision to get rid of Troop as CEO of the Games and replace him with Saad Rafi, a former deputy minister of health.
At the time, the Pan Am board gave no reason for Troop’s departure, but sources said there were key operational issues that were not being decided, creating a schism between the organizers and the Ontario government.
There was also an outcry from the opposition parties when Troop, who was paid $477,000 a year, billed taxpayers 91 cents for parking, $1.89 for a cup of tea and $8,561.19 for a Mexican hotel and cocktail party.
The Ontario government also came under criticism when it was disclosed there was a $7-million bonus package for TO2015 executives, including Troop, who was eligible for a $780,000 premium if the Games came in on budget.
The Opposition was up in arms after the province announced the total budget for the Toronto 2015 Games, including transportation and security, would be at least $2.5 billion _ far above the $1.4 billion the province originally stated.
The transportation budget alone will be up to $90 million to shuttle athletes and officials to the various venues around southern Ontario, which stretch from Niagara in the west to the Orillia area in the north, and as far east as Oshawa.
Even though three levels of government are contributing funding for the Pan Am/Parapan Games in Toronto, Ontario is putting in the lion’s share and will be on the hook for any cost overruns.