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Province terminates Lean contract early to “reduce costs”

REGINA – The Government of Saskatchewan is bailing early on its contract with John Black and Associates (JBA), the firm tasked with supporting the implementation of Lean health care processes throughout the provincial health system.

The contract was originally set to expire in June 2015 (with an option to extend to September 2015), but the province has given JBA 90 days notice that it will be terminating the contract at the end of March 2015.

“We feel we have now reached a point where we can move forward on our own,” said Health Minister Dustin Duncan. “And, in doing so, we will be able to reduce costs associated with continuing the JBA contract.”

The company was to be paid $40 million since it was hired in 2012 to streamline health services in the province under the Lean program.

The government said last month the total cost of the contract will end up being closer to $35 million. Monday’s announcement that the contract will terminate in March is said to save the province another $3 million.

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The province says more than 200 health system staff have received ‘Lean leader certification,’ and will now be tasked with training other staff.

“Moving up the end date for the contract will mean that the transition to managing the quality improvement work within our internal capacity will happen more swiftly,” Duncan said.

The first major criticism of the Lean program surfaced in March, with the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses calling the program “disappointing”.

Then in October, the opposition NDP released a scathing memo from a senior administrator in the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region saying workers are “insulted” by certain aspects of the program. A few days later, a newspaper ad asked for interpreters to help during japanese consultations at $600 a day.

“They made one small step in ending the contract a bit early,” said Cam Broten, NDP leader. “But if we actually look at the while project, look at the untold millions that they’ve spent, and now the project that they want to carry on, it’s not much of a change from what’s happened up until this point.”

With files from the Canadian Press

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