Saskatchewan

NDP notes new job for Lean project despite government hiring freeze

The opposition NDP is wondering why the provincial government is hiring more administrators for its Lean initiative, aimed at improving efficiency in the health care sector, in the middle of a hiring freeze.
NDP MLA Warren McCall is questioning the province about a hiring freeze which he says does not seem to apply to jobs associated with the government's Lean initiative. (CBC)

The opposition NDP is wondering why the provincial government is hiring more administrators for its Lean initiative, aimed at improving efficiency in the health care sector, in the middle of a hiring freeze.

In December, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said the province would eliminate all non-essential hiring and travel.

On Thursday, the NDP's Warren McCall noted a job posting has gone up in Regina for Lean specialist in health care.

"The gravy train keeps rolling for Lean specialists," McCall said. "There's no end of money to put towards those folks, but the front lines go wanting, where the actual services people count on are being delivered."

The Minister of Health, Dustin Duncan, defended the job posting as necessary considering tight fiscal times.

"Certainly my opinion and the ministry's opinion is that safety and quality improvement wouldn't necessarily be considered discretionary," Duncan said. "So the region did make a decision to post that position."

The Opposition has repeatedly criticized the Lean program, which aims to streamline health care across the province.

Saskatchewan's Minister of Health, Dustin Duncan, says new hires for the Lean initiative may be viewed as essential hire during tight fiscal times. (CBC)
The New Democrats argue that the $40-million contract with a U.S. consultant has failed to improve the province's standards. Duncan said ending the contract early with consultant John Black in March will help to save money. The government has said the total cost of the contract, which was initially set to expire in June, will end up being closer to $35 million.

"Long after John Black is gone from the province, it's our intention Lean will stay here. That means we do need people who are focused on ... patient safety and quality improvement," Duncan said.

He added that some of the travel previously booked for the Lean program is also going ahead despite the fiscal restraints.

The NDP has previously criticized the Ministry of Health for sending staff on tours to health facilities across North America for Lean training.

On Thursday, officials said that between Jan. 1 and March 31, the government will spend a total of $1.25 million for a series of seven tours. Each tour will involve 20 people. The total of $1.25 million includes the tours and associated travel costs of about $2,900 per person, per trip.

A government spokeswoman added that travel requests have been greatly reduced and ministry staff have been directed to consider alternatives, such as teleconferencing.

Premier Wall has said the Lean program has been successful and already paid for itself with savings on the design for the new children's hospital in Saskatoon and a new hospital in Moose Jaw.

Saskatchewan was the first jurisdiction in Canada to apply the Lean program across its entire health system.

With files from CBC's Stefani Langenegger and The Canadian Press

Comments

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?

now