John Black contact ends early


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January 8, 2015 9:09 AM

It wasn’t exactly what the NDP wanted, but the Saskatchewan government’s contract with American consultant John Black was cut short over the Christmas holidays.

NDP Leader Cam Broten spoke with reporters last week, stating that the termination of the contract was not enough to end the wasteful spending the Saskatchewan government has created with its lean project.

“Sending John Black to the golf course a few months earlier, while ignoring the mess that was created by the John Black lean is not the answer, and is not adequate for the problem that this government has created,” Broten said in Regina.

Black was hired two years ago to help find efficiencies in the provinces health-care system. Since Day 1, the NDP have accused the government of wasteful spending.

The lean project cost taxpayers $10 million per year for four years. It was heading into the last six months of its contract.

Health Minister Dustin Duncan said, in a press release dated Dec. 29, that the province would be able to move forward with the implementation of lean without John Black.

“While our relationship with (John Black) has been very worthwhile in terms of improving health service delivery and reducing costs in our health care system, we feel we have now reached a point where we can move forward on our own and, in doing so, we will be able to reduce costs associated with continuing the (John Black) contract,” Duncan said.

The contract was originally scheduled to conclude in June 2015.

“We are strongly committed to continuing our lean journey throughout the health system,” Duncan said.

Broten said that the lean program under John Black has caused problems across the province.

He added that while removing the top of the lean program, the government will see more of the same problems that were created under the program.

Broten said that health regions across the province will now have to pick up the tabs of training under the lean program.

“This government is stubborn ... and I guess it’s done a first step by cutting the contract a couple of months earlier,” he said.

“What was really needed was to have a change of direction.”

Broten said that the government hasn’t admitted to the mistakes that were made under the initiative.

The NDP leader said that he has always said that lean could be a useful tool.

“My criticism has been around the John Black version of lean,” Broten said.

He added that he would like to see the government cut out the top-down approach.

“When lean is actually about getting work done on the front lines, and taking some good ideas and making them happen, that could be a good thing.”

Overall, Broten said that he is happy that the contract has ended.

“But it should have ended sometime ago,” he said.

“If this government is actually serious about seeing positive outcomes, or actually serious about making the right decisions about health outcomes, we would see from this government a retreat from the John Black version of lean.”

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