After quitting her job as head of the civil service, the government continued to pay Jessica McDonald for another 90 days so she could assist her successor Allan Seckel. Internal records obtained by Public Eye via a freedom of information request give little indication of the assistance the former civil service head provided. And those same records show the premier personally authorized the transition agreement that saw Ms. McDonald spend at least part of that time in Ontario being trained as a corporate director on the taxpayer's dime. Nevertheless, a government spokesperson has told Public Eye Ms. McDonald actually "frequently and regularly" spoke with Mr. Seckel "on a range of issues" after resigning.
That decision was made public on October 5, 2009, with the details of her departure laid out 13 days earlier in a letter signed by Gordon Campbell.
In that letter, he proposed an "informal role" be created for Ms. McDonald for the next three months so she could transfer her "knowledge regarding issues and decisions in progress."
"During that time, if you wish, you will have access to career counselling and training as you seek your next career opportunity," he added.
None of the emails sent to or from Ms. McDonald during that transition period concerned any significant issues or decisions.
And, according to her calendar, she had just four scheduled get-togethers with Mr. Seckel and a handful of meetings with other senior officials.
But a government spokesperson said Ms. McDonald "frequently and regularly" talked with her successor, providing "considerable advice around managing the public service as well as specific policy files to ensure a smooth transition."
The records also show the ex-deputy minister did take advantage of the premier's offer to access career training.
As we earlier reported, the government paid $12,360 for Ms. McDonald to attend three courses being offered by the Directors College at White Oaks Conference Resort and Spa, a luxury hotel located in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
It's the only taxpayer-financed training she took during the six years she spent with the premier office.
Ms. McDonald also spent at least three days in Toronto, where she was scheduled to have lunch with Bill Robson, president and chief executive officer of the C.D. Howe Institute, and participate in a video shoot for the Women's Executive Network.
Asked whether Ms. McDonald did anything else while she was in Hog Town, a government spokesperson stated the former civil service head "attended to other government business" including "meetings with the Institute of Public Administration of Canada" - a professional association for civil servants.
The following is a complete copy of the aforementioned records.