Controversial 'Lean' company's contract ending early

The Saskatchewan government is ending its controversial contract with the U.S. company that brought the "Lean" program to the health system here.

NDP had criticized government over $35M efficiency program

Saskatchewan Health Minister Dustin Duncan says Saskatchewan staff now have enough expertise in Lean, so they can take over from a U.S. based consultant. (Ntawnis Piapot/CBC)

The Saskatchewan government is ending its controversial contract with the U.S. company that brought the "Lean" program to the health system here.

Health Minister Dustin Duncan said that more than 200 staff who have been certified as so-called "Lean leaders" will take over training other staff now.

"We're to the point where there's enough of a foundation of Lean within the health system in terms of our 'Lean leader' certification where we're at right now that we're ready to move out on our own," said Duncan. 

The $35 million contract with John Black and Associates was supposed to end in June of next year, with an option to extend it until September.

But the Ministry of Health has decided to end it early — at the end of March.

The government said ending the contract early will save taxpayers $3 million. 

Lean is a multi-million dollar program that's supposed to find inefficiencies in the province's health care system. 

Opposition questioned cost

The government has been taking heat in the legislature over the program, with the Opposition NDP saying it's too expensive, uses too much jargon and is disliked by many front line health care workers.

On Monday, Opposition Leader Cam Broten said he doesn't expect the spending to fully stop any time soon.

"We're continuing to spend huge amounts of money on this. $17 million on the Lean Kaizen promotion offices every year," said Broten. "Health regions will be picking up the tab for a lot of this training that goes on." 

During a number of question periods, the Opposition has quizzed the government about the large travel bills racked up by Lean staff, including Japanese senseis flown in to do sessions.

Premier Brad Wall and Health Minister Dustin Duncan have defended the program, saying Lean has resulted in savings that more than pay for itself.

"Quality improvement work [will] continue on a day to day basis without the use of an overall consultant like John Black and Associates," said Duncan. 


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?